Coronavirus: Social distancing in schools ‘doesn’t exist’, head says

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The head teacher of St George’s Primary School in Sheerness said he was concerned about safety when schools re-open

A head teacher has said “there is no such thing as social distancing in school” as children prepare to return.

In a letter to parents Howard Fisher, of St George’s Primary School in Sheerness, Kent, wrote: “I would rather any child repeats a year than go back too soon and have to lose a child.”

The government plans to reopen primary schools in England from 1 June.

The Department for Education (DfE) said the welfare of children and staff was “at the heart of all decision-making”.

Schools have been closed since March to all pupils except vulnerable children and the children of key workers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The prime minister has revealed plans for some year groups to return to school from 1 June, beginning with Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, if infection rates and other tests at the time allow it.

However, Mr Fisher told parents social distancing in schools “would never exist”.

He wrote: “The reason childhood illnesses spread in a school is surprise, surprise, we are all in contact with each other. I can put two children in opposite classrooms and they will still get chicken pox because that’s how it is in a school.”

Mr Fisher suggested that the reason children would not be given the chance to retake an academic year was due to the costs involved.

“Believe me, I would rather any child repeats a year than go back too soon and have to lose a child. Why is this not in the national debate; because it will cost money!”

Teaching unions have also opposed the plans to reopen schools but Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has warned against “scaremongering” over safety and said it was the most disadvantaged who were losing out from schools being closed.

A spokesperson for the DfE said: “We want children back in schools as soon as possible because being back with their teachers and friends is so important for their education and their wellbeing.

“Plans for a phased return of some year groups from 1 June, at the earliest, are based on the best scientific and medical advice. The welfare of children and staff has been at the heart of all decision making.

“We have engaged closely with the unions throughout the past seven weeks and will continue to do so, including to develop further guidance for the sector.”

 
 

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