Coronavirus outbreak: Schools, colleges reopen after months of COVID-19 lockdown in England
London, Sep 01: Hundreds of thousands of children and young people across England are set to resume their classes at schools and colleges from Tuesday after months of lockdown imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus since March.
The Department for Education said pupils will return to school environments with a "system of controls" in place to keep all pupils, teachers and staff safe by minimising direct contacts and maintaining social distancing wherever possible.
Face coverings will be mandatory in communal areas and corridors at schools and colleges within areas of the country deemed at high risk of COVID-19 infections. "For many, today marks the first day of a new school year, with thousands of children set to walk through their school gates again as schools across the country begin to reopen for full-time education for all pupils," said UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.
"I do not underestimate how challenging the last few months have been but I do know how important it is for children to be back in school, not only for their education but for their development and wellbeing too," the minister said.
The DFE emphasised that the new school term follows the backing for a full return from the chief medical officers across the four nations of the UK in their recent consensus statement, highlighting that the health risk posed by COVID-19 to children is extremely low and noting the significant risk to young people's wellbeing if they are not back in school.
A 'British Medical Journal' study also said the risk of severe illness due to COVID for children was "vanishingly small". Last week, the National Association of Head Teachers published survey findings that highlighted 97 per cent of schools plan to welcome all pupils full-time from the start of the autumn term and will have the range of recommended safety measures in place.
The remaining 3 per cent outlined that they will phase students back or use transition periods to reopen more widely. The return of pupils this week follows the reopening of schools in Leicestershire last week, with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visiting to see first-hand the practical steps being taken to ensure the risk of transmission is reduced.