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Schools will start to reopen from June 1 'at the earliest' as reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils lead the way – but unions immediately dismiss 'reckless' plans and one demands children are DISINFECTED at the gates

Schools will start to reopen from June 1 'at the earliest' as reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils lead the way – but unions immediately dismiss 'reckless' plans and one demands children are DISINFECTED at the gates
  • Boris Johnson said pupils in reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to be the first to go back
  • Said secondary school students with exams next year will get time with teachers
  • He is also understood to want nurseries to be up and running as soon as possible 
  • But in an immediate blow for the PM Wales and Scotland have dismissed the idea
  • And the leader of the country's largest teaching union branded the plan reckless
Boris Johnson has revealed schools will start to reopen from June 1 'at the earliest' as he outlined his plan to lift the coronavirus lockdown last night - though teaching unions immediately slammed the proposal as 'reckless'.
The PM said pupils in reception, Year 1 and Year 6 will be the first to go back from the start of next month as part of a staged process. 
Nurseries would also be covered in the initial phase and the hope is that all primary school children would return to class by the summer.
Secondary school students who have exams next year will be given time with teachers before the summer holidays but most will not be back until September.  
The Prime Minister's plan also caused alarm in the country's largest teaching union, with its leader branding it 'reckless'.
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, also called on children to be disinfected at the school gates. 
She said: 'In China, children stand outside the school gates and are sprayed front and back with disinfectant, their shoes are sprayed, they wash their hands with sanitiser, they must take off their mask and replace it with a new one, and their temperature is taken remotely.'
She told The Times similar measures should be introduced in Britain, adding: 'They're doing that in South Korea and they have a minuscule number of new cases.'
Wales has flatly dismissed the PM's proposals and Nicola Sturgeon has suggested there is little prospect of them returning in Scotland until August. 
The PM (pictured on Sunday night) said pupils in reception, Year 1 and Year 6 will be the first to go back from the start of the month during the staged process
The PM (pictured on Sunday night) said pupils in reception, Year 1 and Year 6 will be the first to go back from the start of the month during the staged process
A graphic shown during Mr Johnson's briefing to the nation shows the phased lifting of the lockdown, with some schools reopening being the second step
A graphic shown during Mr Johnson's briefing to the nation shows the phased lifting of the lockdown, with some schools reopening being the second step 
A student in Tennessee, in the US is disinfected, with union bosses calling for similar measures in the UK
A student in Tennessee, in the US is disinfected, with union bosses calling for similar measures in the UK
Wales has flatly dismissed the PM's proposals and Nicola Sturgeon has suggested there is little prospect of them returning in Scotland until August
Pictured: Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford
Wales (right, Mark Drakeford) has flatly dismissed the PM's proposals and Nicola Sturgeon (left) has suggested there is little prospect of them returning in Scotland until August
Mr Johnson told the nation: 'In step two – at the earliest by June 1 – after half term – we believe we may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with reception, Year 1 and Year 6.
'Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays.
'And we will shortly be setting out detailed guidance on how to make it work in schools and shops and on transport.'
Schools and colleges closed their doors to the majority of pupils, apart from the children of key workers and vulnerable youngsters, from March 23.
Primary school year groups outside the initial three may return to classes by the summer if the first stage proves successful.
The only secondary school pupils likely to attend lessons in any form before September are pupils in years 10 and 12.
They will be able to have some face-to-face time with teachers to support their home learning.
The National Education Union (NEU) has told teachers recorded and live-streamed classes should be kept to a 'minimum' while schools are closed
The National Education Union (NEU) has told teachers recorded and live-streamed classes should be kept to a 'minimum' while schools are closed
The PM gave five phases of a 'Covid alert level' that will be primarily influenced by the rate of transmission, or R, which he said is between 0.5 and 0.9
The PM gave five phases of a 'Covid alert level' that will be primarily influenced by the rate of transmission, or R, which he said is between 0.5 and 0.9
Government officials said the remaining secondary school age pupils in England would not be expected to return to school before the summer holidays.
Critical workers who are eligible for the government's childcare offers will continue to get entitlements during the summer term if their income dips due to the crisis.
After official figures suggested the UK death toll passed 36,800, Mr Johnson offered 'the shape of a plan' to ease the lockdown he imposed on March 23.
He gave five phases of a 'Covid alert level' that will be primarily influenced by the rate of transmission, or R, which he said is between 0.5 and 0.9.
He said: 'No, this is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week. Instead we are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures.'
Teaching unions criticised his plans - with one raising concerns about how social distancing can be managed with younger children.
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: 'We think that the announcement by the Government that schools may reopen from June 1 with reception and years one and six is nothing short of reckless.
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: 'We think that the announcement by the Government that schools may reopen from June 1 with reception and years one and six is nothing short of reckless'
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: 'We think that the announcement by the Government that schools may reopen from June 1 with reception and years one and six is nothing short of reckless'
'Coronavirus continues to ravage communities in the UK and the rate of Covid-19 infection is still far too great for the wider opening of our schools.'
Dr Bousted urged the Government to meet five tests set out by teaching unions, which includes extra money for deep cleaning and personal protective equipment (PPE) and local powers to close schools if clusters of Covid-19 infections break out in a particular area.
'If schools are re-opened to blatant breaches of health and safety, we will strongly support our members taking steps to protect their pupils, their colleagues and their families,' she added.
'The worst outcome of any wider re-opening of schools is a second spike of Covid-19 infection.'
In a similar stance, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that 'social distancing is extremely difficult' with children in reception and year one.
He said: 'We are not trying to impede the reopening of schools. Throughout the crisis we have highlighted the importance of bringing in more pupils when the time is right to do so and there is a clear plan in place to manage it safely.
'Unfortunately, we are not persuaded that either of these two simple tests has yet been met.'
Patrick Roach, general secretary of the teachers' union NASUWT said: 'The Prime Minister's statement that it would be 'madness' to risk a second spike in transmission of the coronavirus highlights the need for extreme caution.
'Regrettably, the Prime Minister's announcement is likely to provoke confusion and does not address the genuine concerns that have been raised by teachers.
'The Prime Minister's announcement lacks the clarity of statements issued by ministers in Scotland and Wales who have reaffirmed the key 'stay at home' message.
'The Government's announcement that schools in England might reopen to more children from June 1 risks thousands of schools rushing to make decisions about how best to safeguard the health and safety of children and staff in the absence of any clear national guidance.
'It is baffling that following the Government's decision to close all schools on public health grounds that the Government now expects individual schools to work out for themselves whether or not it will be safe to reopen on June 1 and potentially put at risk the health of children, staff and the public.
'With no date yet set for when the Government's guidance will be forthcoming, school leaders in England are being placed in an extremely difficult position of being asked to draw up plans affecting lives of children and their teachers.'
Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Layla Moran added: 'The Prime Minister's announcement today raises more questions than it answers on reopening schools, like how will social distancing be maintained with the youngest pupils? It's nonsensical.'
Teachers also questioned how they can make younger students abide by social distancing rules.
Bryony Baynes, headteacher of Kempsey Primary School in Worcester, said he was 'flabbergasted' by the PM's speech.
He said: 'I understand that we need to begin the sense of returning to normality, and I understand that a big part of returning to normal is getting the school back up and going.
'However, how on earth are we to manage social distancing between reception and year one pupils when most of them are aged four and five?
'Boris has made a very general statement tonight and then he's gone off and all of my parents will now be clamouring for details.
'I don't know how to manage that and I don't know how to manage getting the reception class into school and keeping them safe.'

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