Getting children back to school in September after months away is a “national priority”, the government has said.
Schools were closed in March for all pupils except the children of key workers when the government announced a UK coronavirus lockdown. Classrooms were reopened in June for a small number of children.
However the government has said it is essential that all pupils return to school for the new academic year this autumn.
“Sadly we have seen children from more disadvantaged backgrounds (are) more likely to fall behind during this time so it is essential that we have children back at school this autumn,” Care minister Helen Whately told Sky News.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson also told the broadcaster that scientific evidence suggested it was safe to reopen schools.
“We have always been and will continue to be guided by the best scientific and medical advice,” Williamson said.
“The latest research which is expected to be published later this year – one of the largest studies on the coronavirus in schools in the world – makes it clear there is little evidence that the virus is transmitted at school.”
Yesterday the prime minister said it was “socially intolerable, economically unsustainable and morally indefensible” to keep schools closed for longer than necessary.
However there have been calls for improvements to testing before schools reopen their doors.
“I think it needs to be as regular as it needs to be, to ensure that the infection is caught and identified as quickly as possible and then the tracking system can move on from that,” children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield told Times Radio.