The Department for Education has published new guidance on phased returns to schools, colleges and nurseries

By 1 June at the earliest, primary schools in England may be able to welcome back children in key transition years – nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. In particular, as per the existing guidance on vulnerable children and young people, vulnerable children of all year groups continue to be expected and encouraged to attend educational provision where they can safely  do so.

The guidance sets out principles that will apply to the phased return including:

  • Vulnerable children of all year groups continue to be expected and encouraged to attend educational provision where it is appropriate for them to do so (for children with education, health and care (EHC) plans this will be informed by a risk assessment approach)

  • If a child or young person lives in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable, as set out in the guidance on shielding, it is advised they only attend an education setting if social distancing can be adhered to and, in the case of children, if they are able to understand and follow those instructions. This may not be possible for very young children and older children without the capacity to adhere to the instructions on social distancing. If stringent social distancing cannot be adhered to, those individuals are not expected to attend. They should be supported to learn or work at home.

The guidance sets out a range of protective measures to ensure education settings remain safe places including:

  • reducing the size of classes and keeping children in small groups without mixing with others

  • staggered break and lunch times, as well as drop offs and pick ups

  • increasing the frequency of cleaning, reducing the used of shared items and utilising outdoor space

Further updates and analysis to follow.

Full guidance available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-educational-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020