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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted on Sunday that plans are still in place for children in reception, year 1 and year 6 classes to return to school next week. The announcement comes after teaching unions have been opposing the reopening of schools so soon.
The National Education Union (NEU) is leading the efforts to dispute a June 1 return.
Some 50 councils are also set to challenge the Government’s guidance.
According to the guidelines published on Sunday, schools must ensure the facilities are safe ahead of the return of pupils.
All changes made due to the pandemic are set to be reviewed in light of the pandemic.
Educators will have to assess how to arrange the furniture in the facilities “and how they can be best used to keep small, consistent groups of children together throughout the day, and to keep the groups apart from each other.”
The guidance states: “Depending on the size and the layout of individual settings, consider how floor space, rooms and outdoor space can be organised to ensure physical distancing between staff and between groups of children, considering the early years foundation stage age-based space requirements.”
It also cites age-based space distancing with children under two years needing 3.5 metres squared per child, two-year-olds using up 2.5 metres squared per child, and children aged three to five years needing 2.3 metres squared per child.
The use of dividers or floor markings are recommended to illustrate how far groups should be staying apart.
The guidance adds: “Public health advice is to remove all soft toys, and any toys that are hard to clean, such as those with intricate parts.
“Where practicable, remove soft furnishings, for example pillows, bean bags and rugs.”
The measures require staff to to keep group sizes to a maximum of eight children and “to ensure that there are no more than 16 children in a group in early years settings.”
Students and staff are advised mix in a “small consistent group” and that “small group stays away from other groups.”
Institutions are also advised to keep a box of disposable tissues at hand to implement the “catch it, bin it, kill it” guidance.
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When it comes to dropping off and picking up children, parents are asked to consider “limiting drop off and pick up to one parent or carer per family and staggering timings.”
The guidance adds: “Consider how you can use technology to communicate with parents and carers digitally, for example when providing handover information at the end of the day.”
Ventilation is also a key factor, with teachers being advised to keep windows open as much as possible.
Most children and staff members will not need PPE. Staff are also not required to take the temperatures of children daily.
The guidelines state: “Ensure that your setting is operationally prepared to implement these measures, and that they are clearly communicated to all staff members.
“Ensure that supplies of essential products are in place, as well as contingency plans to respond to any shortages in supplies.”
Teachers will also be required to audit which members of staff will be able to return to work in June.
The guidance says that: “Anyone who is displaying coronavirus symptoms, or has displayed symptoms in the previous 7 days, or lives with someone who has displayed symptoms in the previous 14 days, should not attend work unless they have tested negative for coronavirus.”
Any staff members who are considered vulnerable are urged not to go to work.
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