Scarborough schools dilemma: 'We have lots of things in place but I can't hand on heart say that every minute of every hour there will be two-metre distancing'

Parents in Scarborough will find out this week whether the Government is formally asking them to send their children back to school.

By Sarah Fitton
Tuesday, 26th May 2020, 7:00 am

The Prime Minister confirmed on Sunday that he would be pressing ahead with plans for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 students to return on June 1.

The official decision is expected to be made as part of the three-week review of lockdown measures on Thursday.

While several local authorities rebelled by advising their schools not to re-open, North Yorkshire County Council is following the guidance.

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Photo: Getty Images

However, in a statement last week, it acknowledged: “Some schools may be ready to follow Government advice to allow them to open from that date, but many will have staggered dates and approaches depending on their individual circumstances.”

After speaking to her pupils’ parents, Overdale School headteacher and Regional Secretary for school leaders union NHAT Vicki Logan estimated only half would be sending their children back.

“Parents are torn,” she said. “I get regular phone calls from those who just want talk it through, and of course I can do that.

“What I do say is I can’t guarantee two-metre social distancing.

Vicki Logan

“We have lots of things in place to help with segregation but I can’t hand on heart say that every minute of every hour of the day, there will be two-metre distancing.”

The Government has advised that all eligible pupils should be attending school full-time, and said their aim is for all primary year groups to be in school before the summer holidays.

But with the required smaller class sizes and social distancing measures, unions have said that is just not possible for all schools.

Mrs Logan said she refused to open without ensuring the safety of children and staff, and that would mean not opening in the way the Government had initially recommended.

Her school has drafted a plan which would see each year group invited in on different weeks, so that children can go over key skills, meet next year’s teacher and picking up learning packs.

She said the school would respect whatever decision parents made and will support all students, whether they are in school or not.

“I’ve been really pleased that the council seem to be saying now that head teachers can make the decision for their schools and their settings,” she said.

“Each setting is different. We have three floors and two long corridors so there’s a lot of movement in our school and we’ve had to think about that carefully.”