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Protective measures in primary schools

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement about reducing the need for social distancing in public places, today’s Education in the Media looks at why school pupils do not need to be kept apart in the classroom.

During the coronavirus outbreak, primary schools have remained open, initially only to vulnerable children and the children of critical workers, but since 1 June they have opened more widely to pupils in reception, year 1 and year 6. Primary schools also have the flexibility to invite more children in other year groups back where they have the capacity to do so, while maintaining protective measures and groups of no more than 15.

Within their groups, primary schools do not need to keep children 2 metres apart from each other –  this has been the case throughout the outbreak. We recognise that this is not possible, particularly with younger children, and by limiting groups to 15 children and employing other measures to make sure these groups do not mix, the need for physical distancing is reduced

As the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, has said, over the coming weeks we will publish further information and guidance to help schools prepare for a full return in September. We are working across Government and with the sector to ensure these plans are fully in place so that this can happen.

A DfE spokesperson said:

“This move will give more heads and teachers confidence to maximise capacity within classrooms, ahead of all pupils returning from September.

“Primary pupils do not and have not needed to be kept apart in the classroom, and we are encouraging primary heads to use the capacity they have and the flexibility we have given them to bring more groups of children back into school, if they can work within the protective measures.

“Primary schools should continue to operate in groups of no more than 15 and secondaries should not exceed 25% of Year 10 and Year 12 pupils in at any one time.”

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