We want to get all children and young people back into education as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to learn, and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers, carers and teachers.
Thanks to the huge efforts everyone has made to adhere to strict social distancing measures, the scientific advice indicates the transmission rate of COVID-19 has decreased and, based on all the evidence, we have been able to begin our cautious and phased approach to the wider opening of schools. This includes asking primary schools to welcome back children in nursery, Reception, year 1 and year 6 from 1 June, alongside priority groups (vulnerable children and children of critical workers).
However, we recognise that some primary schools will not have been able to open to additional children from 1 June for a number of practical reasons. We are working with local authorities and Regional Schools Commissioners across the country to identify and understand any local issues. If schools are facing particular challenges then we stand ready to support them to ensure they can open more widely as soon as possible.
In most cases the preparation for wider opening will be undertaken by the headteacher and senior colleagues of individual schools. However, relevant bodies (such as local authorities, academy trusts or governing bodies, depending on the school type) retain responsibility for key decisions and plans should be confirmed with them, particularly risk assessments of the school opening more widely, before pupils and staff return.