Councils will need the power to close schools or nurseries if testing indicates clusters of new COVID-19 cases, the LGA says today.
Councils are working with all schools to try and get children back safely as soon as possible. The LGA said there are concerns about how schools will be able to impose strict social distancing measures, particularly with younger and more vulnerable children, which pose a potential threat to staff and other children’s families if they take the virus home with them.
It wants local flexibility to allow some schools to take their own decisions about reopening - in consultation with their councils. For example, in communities where there is higher risk, such as those with a high proportion of Black, Asian and minority ethnic residents.
Councils are also calling for the Government to urgently publish the scientific evidence that underpins advice to reopen schools to reassure parents, pupils and teachers that it is safe to return from June 1.
Without the scientific evidence about the health risks facing staff and other children’s families if a pupil contracts and takes the coronavirus home with them, parents will not have the reassurance needed to send their children back to school or early year settings.
This may mean a child or young person will miss out on key development opportunities.
Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:
“We know parents are anxious about sending their children back to school or nursery.
“Plans to re-open schools and early years settings must focus on reassuring parents that it will be safe for children to return to school. Publication of the scientific advice is vital to help provide that reassurance.
“The safety of staff, parents and families is absolutely paramount.
“Councils need to be able to close provision where testing indicates clusters of new COVID-19 cases and it is vital that schools have the resources to provide staff with necessary protective equipment, as well as soap and hand sanitizer for cleaning.”