Unions representing college and faculty employees and headteachers mentioned they had been “increasingly concerned” the federal government may go for this plan, as they raised considerations it may danger a surge in coronavirus circumstances and drag out disruption confronted by college students.
A coalition of 9 organisations urged Boris Johnson to solely plan for a phased return from 8 March, when the federal government hopes to reopen faculties extra broadly.
The prime minister is anticipated to put out plans when he units out a “roadmap” for relieving England’s lockdown subsequent week.
In a joint assertion on Friday, the group of unions mentioned they had been “committed to bringing all children and young people back into the classroom as soon as possible”.
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“However, it is counterproductive if there is a danger of causing another surge in the virus, and the potential for a further period of lockdown,” they said.
They urged Mr Johnson to commit to welcome children back on 8 March “only if the scientific evidence is absolutely clear that this is safe” and if so, to only go ahead with a phased return.
“We are increasingly concerned that the government is minded to order a full return of all pupils on Monday 8 March in England. This would seem a reckless course of action,” the coalition said.
“It could trigger another spike in Covid infections, prolong the disruption of education, and risk throwing away the hard-won progress made in suppressing the virus over the course of the latest lockdown.”
The coalition – which includes the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), National Education Union (NEU), Unison and Unite – said science over the impact of schools in the overall rate of transmission was “uncertain”.
“What we do know is that the full reopening of schools will bring nearly 10 million pupils and staff into circulation in England – close to one fifth of the population,” they said. “This is not a small easing of lockdown restrictions. It is a massive step.
This means a “cautious approach” to wider opening of schools and colleges is needed, which should be “phrased over a period of time”, the nine organisations – which also included GMB, National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA) – said.
On Monday, Mr Johnson said no decisions had been made on whether year groups across schools in England will return together, or whether primaries and secondaries could be staggered.
Total attendance in schools has been consistently higher during this current lockdown compared to March to May last year, when schools were also shut to all but key worker and vulnerable children.
The Department for Education has been approached for remark.