‘Rushed and premature’: parents reveal fears over schools reopening amid Covid-19 crisis

Parents in England have complained that the decision by the UK government to reopen primary schools on 1 June was “rushed and premature”. The plan is that primary schools will bring back reception, year 1 and year 6 classes, as well as nursery children, if they have them.

According to thousands of accounts submitted by parents and teachers to the Guardian community team, there is still a lot of concern about how physical distancing will be managed and how to balance keeping children and teachers safe with the need for them to return to state education.

Rachael Towers, 44, make-up artist, Stratford-upon-Avon

“There is absolutely no chance I will allow my children, aged 4 and 16, back to school as early as June, while death toll figures and cases are still fairly high. I’d like them to as they’re driving me up the wall, but it doesn’t feel safe yet. September is the earliest I would consider. I have the ability to work from home so I understand it’s hard for parents that need to go to work. But what is more important than your children’s lives?”

Andy Bradshaw, 41, stay-at-home dad, Birmingham

“Part of me is glad [schools are set to reopen] because both our boys are missing out on so much – one’s in year 1 and the other has special needs and is in year 7. Our youngest son is missing his friends and the socialising aspect of school the most. Schools only have two weeks to get it sorted and unions are rightly kicking off. It doesn’t help that the Department for Education wasn’t consulted, but schools will need to go back at some point.”

James Vyner, 44, educational media company worker, Newick

“We’re very nervous, but we’re unlikely to send them in. Our four-year-old has slight respiratory problems so we’ll keep him off, but what if our 10-year-old daughter catches it and brings it home? She’s missing her friends and at some point the weight of that emotional toll will take precedence. It’s very hard to know how real the fear of how it could impact our family is. Everyone’s so scared and it’s difficult to be rational right now.”

Kerri Jamieson, 34, teacher, Brighton

“I feel it is too early to say June is the right time – the country is not ready. As a teacher, I work in a secondary school, and can understand going back to work with year 10 and year 12. But as a mother of a two-year-old and five-year-old, I’m very concerned. We know that children don’t seem to get very ill and that’s reassuring to a degree, but there’s no conclusive evidence yet about how they pass on the virus to adults. To me, the decision seems rushed and premature.”

Ulla Rajala, 52, archaeologist, Leicester

“It is crucial. My son is a SEND [special educational needs and disabilities] child in year 6 and he will go to secondary school next school year. He will need a lot of transitional experience in order to manage moving around and learning in a new school, independently. Without this, he will be hugely disadvantaged. He is an only child, so the social side of going back to school would be beneficial too.”

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