PRIMARY schools in Northwich are working together on plans to minimise the risk for pupils and staff once they reopen.

The government is hoping that schools can reopen for certain year groups from June 1, with it being Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ambition for schools to open to all children for the last four weeks of term.

However, as guidance and timescales are constantly being adjusted due to the nature of coronavirus, planning for schools to reopen is problematic, according to Northwich Education Partnership.

This is a partnership of almost all primary schools in the Northwich area, allowing them to speak with one voice.

Catriona Stewart, partnership chair and headteacher at Kingsmead Primary School, said: “While we appreciate guidance from the Department of Education and understand that the picture changes as much for them as for us, this makes planning more difficult.

“Every day new guidance arrives, the timescale for planning how we can implement it in all our different schools, gets shorter and shorter.

“Our priority as head teachers is, first and foremost, the welfare and safety of children and the people in school who care for and educate them.

“Evidence suggests children are relatively less affected by coronavirus than adults, though there is, as yet, not much data on children and very few have been tested.

“However as headteachers, we not only have a duty of care to children but also to all the adults working in school, and without whom caring and providing for children’s welfare or education is not possible.

“This is why parents have probably not yet have received a detailed plan from their child’s school with dates and times.

“As much as parents, we want to know exactly what things will look like from June 1, but it is important that this is communicated only when we can deliver what we are offering, and as safely and well as we can.

“Announcing prematurely that we are open from June 1 and then having to pull back because it won’t be possible or not safe enough is no help at all to families.”

When schools do reopen, they are expected to do so with classes half the size they were before lockdown, and with school buildings having stricter controls on how pupils can mix.

“One thing the government, DfE, teacher unions and local authorities all seem to agree on is that social distancing is not possible or desirable in schools,” Ms Stewart continued.

“It would be upsetting and unkind to children for one thing and impossible to implement anyway.

“This is why we have been asked to work in small groups of around 15 and keep the groups separate during their time in school.

“We understand that parents will be anxious about their child returning to school.

“We would like to be able to give a clear, detailed plan so parents know exactly what things will look like after 1st June, but we can’t right now.

“We need time to develop and formalise the plans and risk assessments that we have been working on for a good while; time to train staff so they can implement the changes with competence and confidence; and to ensure our planning and provision will make us safe enough for everyone to return.”

Ms Stewart also wanted to thank parents on behalf of all teachers for the great efforts that have been put into the education of children at home.