Schools reopen: When do schools reopen in England, Wales, Scotland and NI?
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Professor Chris Whitty has said reopening schools brings less risk of long-term harm than keeping young pupils at home. The scientist, who is England’s chief medical officer, said the Government will have to “balance the risk” when sending children back to school during the coronavirus outbreak.
He admitted the reopening of schools will “put pressure” on the R number and could lead to the closure of pubs and shops at a local level.
However, he made it clear children are more likely to be “harmed by not going than by going, even during this pandemic”.
Professor Whitty said: “The first thing to say is that the evidence that not going to school damages children in the long run is overwhelming and that includes their long-term chances.
“It increases the risks of disparities, it entrenches deep-rooted problems that people may have, it increases the risk that they have mental and physical ill health in the long run.”
He added: “So the reason that is important to lay out is the chances of children catching covid and then getting long-term serious problems as a result of it, solely due to going to school are incredibly small.
“They’re not zero, but they’re incredibly small.
“The chances of many children being damaged by not going to school are incredibly clear and therefore the balance of risk is very strongly in favour of children going to school because many more are likely to be harmed by not going than harmed by going, even during this pandemic.”
Professor Whitty is joined by the chief medical officers and deputy chief medical officers for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in saying children should return to school during the pandemic.
When do schools reopen in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?
Most schools in England and Wales will return on either September 1 or September 2, with the autumn term running until December 18.
Schools that can accommodate all pupils from the start of the term have been told do so.
However, there will be a period of flexibility in recognition schools may want to focus on priority year groups, such as those new to secondary schools, those sitting exams next summer or those in reception classes.
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Schools in Scotland have already welcomed pupils back, after they were given the go-ahead to reopen from August 11 earlier this month.
In Northern Ireland, pupils going into years seven, 12 and 14 are to return to school on August 24 with all other pupils returning from September 1.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants all pupils to return to school next month, saying it is the “right thing for everybody”.
But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said Mr Johnson’s promise to get all children back to school had been put at “serious risk” by a “week of chaos” over exam results.
He told The Observer: “I want to see children back at school next month, and I expect the prime minister to deliver on that commitment.
“However, the commitment is now at serious risk after a week of chaos, confusion and incompetence from the government.
“Ministers should have spent the summer implementing a national plan to get all children back to school.
“Instead, the last two weeks have been wasted clearing up a mess of the government’s own making over exam results.”
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