WINSFORD'S primary schoolchildren in some years could return to the classroom from June 8, Cheshire West and Chester Council has confirmed.

But that date is not a strict target, and CWAC only wants youngsters to return to lessons if all five of the Government's 'key tests' on tackling Covid-19 are met in time.

Schools will make their own decision on whether or not they can reopen, and the council says it will support whatever they choose.

And families themselves will have the final say, as CWAC has confirmed it will not fine parents who choose not to let their child attend school because they fear it is unsafe.

It follows a week in which primary schools were asked to fill in risk assessment forms to say whether or not they were in a position to let children in nursery, reception, year one and year six join the children of key workers' in attending lessons next month.

The Guardian has learned that around one-third of schools in Cheshire West told the council they could reopen with social distancing next month.

Another third of schools told CWAC they could with some difficulty, while a third of schools said they could not.

It comes as different schools have numbers of staff who are vulnerable to Covid-19 and unable to work in the pandemic, while other schools face physical challenges of providing the right space to carry out socially-distanced lessons.

Children of key workers and vulnerable youngsters have been attending school throughout the coronavirus crisis – and this will not change next month.

What needs to happen

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make an update next week on how many of his five key tests have been met.

They are:

  1. Making sure the NHS can cope
  2. A sustained and continuous fall in the daily death rate
  3. The rate of infection decreasing to manageable levels
  4. Ensuring enough supply of personal protective equipment
  5. Being confident a lifting of restrictions would not result in a second wave of coronavirus

The council will continue in its discussions with headteachers and teaching unions to review any appropriate date for reopening schools based on those five conditions.

Parents and carers will be kept informed of updates from their child's school.

What the councillor responsible says

Cllr Bob Cernik, Labour member for Winnington and Castle, is cabinet member for children and families.

He said: "All schools are currently open and have been since the start of the lockdown, including the holidays. They are doing an outstanding job looking after vulnerable children and children of key workers, that will continue.

"Before any of our schools open to larger numbers of children we need to be sure it’s safe to do so.

"Based on the evidence, from all the schools in the borough, June 8 is the very earliest we could achieve any expansion. This is not a target date, it’s an advised earliest safe starting date for some schools who have indicated they are ready to expand their cohort.

"The safety of pupils and school staff is our priority and we will support all our schools with their decision about reopening."

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