Coronavirus: Educational Institutions

Department for Education written question – answered on 12th June 2020.

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Photo of Daniel Poulter Daniel Poulter Conservative, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that the transmission rate of covid-19 is low and manageable in (a) nurseries, (b) primary schools, (c) secondary schools and (d) sixth form colleges.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

As a result of the huge efforts everyone has made to adhere to strict social distancing measures, the transmission rate of COVID-19 has decreased and the Government’s five tests have been met. Based on all the evidence, the Department asked primary schools to welcome back children in nursery, Reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside priority groups (vulnerable children and children of critical workers), from 1 June. From 15 June, secondary schools can invite year 10 and 12 pupils (years 10 and 11 for alternative provision schools) back into school for some face-to-face support with their teachers, to supplement their remote education, which will remain the predominant mode of education for these pupils this term. Priority groups can continue to attend full-time.

Ensuring the safety of children, young people, the workforce and families is our overriding priority, and we have been led by the science in determining when it is safe to bring children back. We are taking a phased approach to opening up schools and other education settings to more children, to limit the risk of increasing the rate of transmission. It is important to underline that all education and childcare settings remain safe places for children.

The Department has published extensive and detailed guidance for settings, also for parents and carers, on how to prepare. All of the Department’s COVID-19 guidance for childcare and educational settings – including that on implementing protective measures and preparing settings to reopen - can be found in one place on GOV.UK at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

The measures set out in the protective measures guidance – including the ability to access the new national test and trace programme - can be seen as a hierarchy of controls that, when implemented, creates an inherently safer system, where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced.

We continue to follow the best scientific advice and believe that our cautious, phased return is the most sensible course of action to take. We will only ask schools and further education colleges to welcome more children and young people back when the scientific advice indicates that we can. If necessary, we will ask settings to re-impose measures.

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