Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Petition Delay the reopening of schools to September

Not open the schools until September so the risk of coronavirus infection is minimal

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Because gatherings of thousands of people around the country could cause a second wave of coronavirus.

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44,694 signatures

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100,000

Government responded

This response was given on 30 June 2020

We want all children and young people to return to school as soon as possible. Schools began to welcome back more pupils from 1 June.

Read the response in full

The Government has no plans to delay the wider opening of schools. We want to get all children and young people back into education as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to learn, and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers, carers and teachers. Our ambition is for all children and young people to return to school from September.

From the 1 June we have been able to take the first, cautious, steps towards that. As the Prime Minister confirmed on 28 May, the government’s five tests are being met and we have begun to ease the lockdown restrictions across England.

Informed by all the evidence, including the latest scientific and medical advice, this means that nurseries and other early years providers, including childminders, are now able to welcome back children of all ages. Primary schools are able to welcome back pupils in Reception, year 1 and year 6, in smaller class sizes.

From 15 June, secondary schools and FE colleges have started to provide face-to-face support for pupils in years 10 and 12 and 16-19 students in the first year of a two-year study programme, who are due to take key exams next year.

A decision to welcome back these key year groups has not been taken lightly and has been based on the best and latest scientific advice. In doing so we recognise that it is vital that we continue to control the numbers attending schools and colleges to reduce the risk of increasing transmission, and that schools can put measures in place to further reduce the risks and create an inherently safer environment.

The Department for Education has published detailed guidance for schools and other education settings on how to open to more pupils. This includes planning guides for early years providers and for primary schools, and further guidance for secondary schools and further education colleges.

Crucially, we have provided guidance on the protective measures that schools, nurseries and colleges should implement to reduce the risks of transmission. This includes restricting class sizes, limiting contact and mixing between groups, and encouraging regular hand washing and frequent cleaning. This advice was developed in close consultation with Public Health England.

The safety of children, young people and staff remains our top priority. All staff and children, including the under 5s, have access to testing if they develop symptoms of coronavirus. This will enable the right response where a case is confirmed, including using a ‘test and trace’ approach to rapidly identify people most at risk of having been exposed to the virus.

Department for Education

This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/318206)

At 100,000 signatures...

At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament

Other parliamentary business

E-petition session on easing Covid-19 lockdown restrictions

On Wednesday 15 July, the Petitions Committee will hold its first ever hybrid ‘e-petitions session’ in response to petitions relating to the easing of Coronavirus lockdown restrictions, including this one.

MPs will discuss the Government’s approach to easing the lockdown, in light of petitions about easing Covid-19 restrictions on certain sectors, businesses and activities which have gained over 287,000 signatures. Chloe Smith MP, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, will respond for the Government.

This session has been scheduled because sittings in Westminster Hall (where e-petitions are normally debated) are still suspended as part of Parliament’s arrangements for adapting to the Coronavirus outbreak, and because the Government has not provided more time for debates on e-petitions in the main Chamber of the House of Commons.

In this session, MPs will be able to take part in person or remotely via video link. This will be the first time that MPs will discuss e-petitions in this new hybrid format. Petitions sessions and debates are an opportunity for MPs to discuss the important issues raised by petitions, however they cannot directly change the law or result in a vote to implement the request of the petition.

Watch live from 2.30pm on Wednesday 15 July: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M23xrNJMaM8

Original government response

We want all children and young people to return to school as soon as possible. Schools have begun to welcome back more pupils from 1 June now the five key tests set by the Government have been met.

We want to get all children and young people back into education as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to learn, and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers, carers and teachers.

From the 1 June we have been able to take the first, cautious, steps towards that. As the Prime Minister confirmed on 28 May, the government’s five tests are being met and we can begin to ease the lockdown restrictions across England.

Informed by all the evidence, including the latest scientific and medical advice, this means that nurseries and other early years providers, including childminders, are now able to welcome back children of all ages. Primary schools are able to welcome back pupils in Reception, year 1 and year 6, in smaller class sizes. This is alongside the children of critical workers and vulnerable children of all ages who will continue to be able to attend.

We know that not every school or early years provider will have been able to open for more children from 1 June. We recognise that they need time to plan and to implement the protective measures we have asked them to put in place. We are continuing to work with the sector to ensure any schools experiencing difficulties are supported to open more widely as soon as possible.

From 15 June, secondary schools and FE colleges will be providing face-to-face support for years 10 and 12 and 16-19 students in the first year of a two-year study programme, who are due to take key exams next year. This support will supplement their remote education, which will continue to be the main method of education during this term for these students, as only a quarter of this cohort will be able to attend at any one time to limit the risk of transmission. Children of critical workers and vulnerable children in all year groups will continue to be able to attend full-time.

A decision to welcome back these key year groups has not been taken lightly and has been based on the best and latest scientific advice. In doing so we recognise that it is vital that we continue to control the numbers attending schools and colleges to reduce the risk of increasing transmission, and that schools can put measures in place to further reduce the risks and create an inherently safer environment.

The Department for Education has published detailed guidance for schools and other education settings on how to prepare for opening to more pupils. This includes planning guides for early years providers and for primary schools, and further guidance for secondary schools and further education colleges.

Crucially, we have provided guidance on the protective measures that schools, nurseries and colleges should implement to reduce the risks of transmission. This includes restricting class sizes, limiting contact and mixing between groups, and encouraging regular hand washing and frequent cleaning. This advice was developed in close consultation with Public Health England.

The safety of children, young people and staff remains our top priority. All staff and children, including the under 5s, will have access to testing if they develop symptoms of coronavirus. This will enable the right response where a case is confirmed, including using a ‘test and trace’ approach to rapidly identify people most at risk of having been exposed to the virus.

We continue to follow the best scientific advice and believe that this cautious, phased return is the most sensible course of action to take. We will only open for additional year groups if the most up-to-date assessment of the risk posed by the virus indicates it is appropriate to have larger numbers of children within schools. And of course, as the Prime Minister set out, we will not hesitate to reverse the policy if necessary.

Department for Education

This response was given on 9 June 2020. The Petitions Committee then requested a revised response, that more directly addressed the request of the petition.

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