Nottingham City Council is to support primary schools to reopen for more pupils from Monday 15 June.
Following discussions with education unions, head teachers and public health officials, the City Council is supportive that primary schools should prepare for a gradual increase in Year 6 pupils for the remainder of the summer term.
Schools will also continue to be open for the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils.
The new position follows three key changes since the council decided two weeks ago that the conditions were not yet right for pupils to return. The changes are:
- Nottingham has seen a sustained fall in the number of cases of Covid-19 which significantly lowers the risk of children and adults contracting the virus in a school setting
- The capacity for testing children and adults in Nottingham has increased since 1 June. This is an important development in supporting schools to gradually increase pupil numbers
- Scientific evidence from the independent SAGE committee pointed to the potential fall in the infection rate by waiting a further two weeks from the proposed original date of the 1 June.
At this stage, the council is recommending schools to reopen more widely only to Year 6 pupils. We will continue to work with schools and trade unions to review the decision for children in Early Years, Reception and Year 1 to gradually phase in their return to school.
Cllr Neghat Khan, Portfolio Holder for Early Years, Education and Employment, said: “This has been a long and difficult journey. We have never experienced anything like this in our lifetimes; we want to have the confidence that the decisions made are the right ones at the time. The safety of our children and staff has always been our top priority.
“Two weeks ago we felt the conditions were not right for more children to be in school. After detailed discussions with unions, public health experts and head teachers, we are now more confident that children can be brought back to school in greater numbers in a safe way.
“Our schools have been open for the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils throughout the lockdown. Based upon this experience, our school staff have done a tremendous job of putting risk assessments in place to understand how best to open our schools safely to more pupils. We would like to thank them all for their patience in the process of getting children back into school.
“We know that schools understand their pupils and their parents. We will continue to work with our schools to ensure that parents can feel confident that their children will be safe in our schools.
“We would also like to acknowledge the hard work of parents and carers throughout the 12 weeks of lockdown so far – and for the next six weeks ahead of the summer holiday. We look forward to the time when all children will return to Nottingham Schools.”
The council would also like to make clear that if parents choose to keep their children at home, they will not be fined for non-attendance. We recognise that the decision at this time rests with parents/carers based upon their judgment.