ASCL comment on Telegraph report about full reopening of schools

25/06/2020
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the report in the Daily Telegraph, ‘Schools to scrap social distancing’
 
Commenting on the report in the Daily Telegraph, ‘Schools to scrap social distancing’, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“This plan appears to us to be the beginning of a realistic and workable way forward to bringing all children back into school in September.

“Social distancing at either 2m or 1m was never going to be possible with a full return to school, and it recognises that safety will have to be managed in other ways. It also recognises that ‘bubbles’ in primaries and secondaries would need to look different. In secondaries, children have to regularly move between different subject options, so the idea of ‘bubbles’ being based on whole year groups is a more workable way forward.

“All of this is an evolving discussion, and we will be seeking and feeding back the views of our members to the government. We will need also to see how the concept of ‘bubbles’ would apply to further education and sixth form colleges.

“We will want to understand the public health guidance which underpins the approach to full reopening. This is important for the confidence of parents, pupils, and staff. And, as none of us know what the coronavirus situation will look like in September, we think it would be sensible to have a plan B if the conditions do not allow for a full reopening. This is not a case of us being negative, but merely a pragmatic suggestion given the uncertainty that lies ahead. Our members will also need a clear and precise set of detailed guidance which they can implement.

“We would also caution that a full return in September will not be school or college as normal. There will be a raft of safety measures in place, and we all need to prepare ourselves for the likelihood that there may be localised full or partial closures if there are outbreaks of the coronavirus, and this may be the reality for some time to come.”