Parents fears as schools across Essex set to reopen

As schools across Essex prepare to open in early September, many parents have expressed concerns around the risks of sending their children back to school.

Some schools in the county will begin reopening from next week, with the remaining schools opening week commencing 7 September.

The reopening of schools is seen by the government as vital to boosting the economy and allowing parents to return to work, as well as critical for pupils, many of whom were last in classrooms just before the lockdown in March.

However some parents, especially those shielding, have said they are scared to send their children back to school.

They are concerned their children may catch the virus in school and bring it back home.

The UK’s most senior medical advisers have warned reopening schools could lead to coronavirus infections rising and force some local lockdown measures.

However they believe that while there are “no risk-free options”, further time out of the classroom would increase inequalities, reduce the life chances of children and could exacerbate physical and mental health issues.

A YouGov survey earlier this month found well over half (57 per cent) of parents support plans for schools to reopen fully, with a quarter (25 per cent) feeling they shouldn’t, with almost a fifth (18 per cent) unsure.

While it was optional to send children back to school last term – most parents did not. 

But the Government has said attendance will be mandatory for the coming term and parents could be fined – £60, rising to £120 if there is a delay in paying – if they decide to keep their children off.

Councils in Essex have said they would only pursue enforcement action as a last resort and said returning to school was vital for a child’s education and wellbeing.

Essex County Council has also said that there will be some differences to the way schools and colleges operate in the autumn term. This may include:

  • pupils being kept in class or year group-sized bubbles
  • older pupils being asked to socially distance where possible
  • the staggering of start, end, break and lunch times
  • regular hand washing

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