Which measures could allow Hertfordshire schools to reopen?

Hertfordshire County Council has discussed social distancing measures required to reopen schools in

Hertfordshire County Council has discussed social distancing measures required to reopen schools in June. Picture: Dave Thompson/PA Wire - Credit: Archant

Dividing up playgrounds and restricting class sizes are among the measures schools will be expected to consider before opening up to more pupils, a leading Hertfordshire county councillor has suggested.

At a meeting of HCC’s cabinet panel on Monday Cllr Terry Douris, executive member for education, libraries and localism, highlighted the plans to open some schools from June 1.

He pointed to the division of playgrounds and a maximum number of children in a single classroom as being among the measures to maintain social distancing, but admitted that the range of school types – from modern to village – across Herts made it important for headteachers to have the final say.

At the meeting of the cabinet, Cllr Douris backed the government’s plans for schoolchildren to return – but stressed that those plans would only be implemented if certain tests were met.

He assured councillors that the welfare of pupils and staff in the county were “absolutely paramount” in the planning.

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And he said that – with leaving the house already becoming a ‘real challenge’ for some children – it was right that they returned to school.

Schools across the county have been closed to the vast majority of youngsters since March 23, as part of a drive to halt the spread of COVID–19.

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Plans have emerged for a phased return to the classroom for children to begin as early as June 1 – starting with those in reception, Year 1 and Year 6.

But Cllr Douris insisted any move to bring back pupils relied on the government’s five tests being met and the so-called ‘R’ number being ‘right’.

Cllr Douris said: “We need to be driven by the science. We need to recognise that although government have said that they plan to open schools or extend schools, they are only going to expand this if the five tests are met and if the ‘R’ number is right.”

Cllr Douris said that comprehensive guidance had been drawn-up and issued to headteachers to help them create plans for their own schools.

He added: “Headteachers know their schools best and will be able to create their own plans.”

Parents and carers will also be expected to play a role in ensuring social distancing from one another at school gates too.

Cllr Douris added: “I would urge and ask and request parents and carers of children to observe social distancing when they are at the school gates, collecting and delivering children at the beginning and the end of the day.”

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