PRIMARY schools face an “almost impossible” task of safely reopening next month, the headteacher of De La Salle High School has said.

Many schools and early learning providers have remained open during the coronavirus crisis for the children of key workers. 

The government has now asked primary schools to open for all children in nursery, reception, Year 1 and Year 6, from June 1.

Downing Street wants to bring all primary year groups back to school before the summer holidays, for a month if feasible.

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Secondary schools, sixth forms, and further education colleges will also begin face-to-face support with Year 10 and Year 12 pupils, although they are not expected to return full-time.

Nurseries and other early years providers, including childminders, are also being asked to begin welcoming back all children.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed his potential plan to allow some children back to school in June, a move branded “reckless” by the National Education Union.

In a letter sent to parents on Monday, De La Salle headteacher Andrew Rannard set out the school’s plans, which include face-to-face virtual sessions with Year 10 pupils.

But he said for the school to start bringing more students on-site, actions and measures need to be in place to keep everyone as safe as possible.

“There has been much written and said since the Prime Minister’s announcement of a conditional reopening of schools, much of it not very helpful,” Mr Rannard said

“I have particular sympathy for my primary headteacher colleagues who face an almost impossible challenge of planning some form of safe reopening with very young children, who are not able to fully understand social distancing.”

St Helens Star: Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to reopen schools from June earlier this month Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to reopen schools from June earlier this month

The government has insisted that safety of children and staff is its “utmost priority” and said the move will also allow more families to return to work.

Government guidelines state that parents will not be fined for non-attendance and schools and colleges will not be held to account for attendance levels.

In his letter to parents, Mr Rannard admitted the school’s plans are “vague”, with much of it depending on factors out of its control.

“From the outset, I must be very honest with you before writing any more – I do not have all the answers to the many questions you, the students and the staff may have,” he said.

“We are working and planning to try to establish these answers, but this is uncharted territory for schools and many factors lie beyond our control.

“Like you, our staff are keen to have a return to normality and to support our students academically and pastorally once again, but this needs to be in a safe and manageable way.”

Last week, Jim Leivers, interim director of children’s services at St Helens Council, wrote to parents to inform that that schools will potentially open for specific year groups from June 1.

He said headteachers and their governing bodies are “working tirelessly” to consider the government’s advice and guidance.

Mr Leivers said schools are putting “robust” plans into place and making the necessary changes to ensure they can open safely for pupils and staff.

“Every school is different and, as a result, arrangements in every school will be unique to their individual circumstances,” Mr Leivers said.

“The priority for us and for all school leaders is the safety of your children.”

In the past week various schools across the borough have began writing to parents in preparation for their reopening.

One primary school headteacher has warned parents they need to be “realistic” around following social distancing guidelines.

“It will be important that you read and understand the risks and the limitations with an understanding that your child cannot be socially distanced from others,” the headteacher said in a letter to parents.

“We can only do so much and though we will be trying our best to follow all advice provided – we need to be realistic.

“We are working with young children and will need to respond to their needs and react to situations within the settings as they unfold.”

St Helens Star: Schools will look to split pupils into smaller groups and spread across classroomsSchools will look to split pupils into smaller groups and spread across classrooms

Another headteacher has warned in a separate letter to parents that social distancing will be “extremely difficult”, particularly among the youngest pupils.

Parents were told that each of the year groups returning to school may have to do so on a rota basis, as they would need to be split into smaller groups and spread across classrooms.

Children will not necessarily be with their usual teacher or in their own classroom and will not be following a formal curriculum at this stage.

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“Ultimately it will be each parent’s personal choice as to whether they decide to send their children back in to school on any of the given dates,” the headteacher said in the letter to parents.

“The school will respect any decisions that you make and, as the guidance states, no-one will be penalised for the decisions that they make.”