How schools could reopen with social distancing as children miss out on 'vital' education

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said that social distancing measures will remain in place for "some time" to come.

By Dan Windham
Sunday, 26th April 2020, 12:50 pm
Updated Sunday, 26th April 2020, 12:51 pm

Mr Raab, who has been standing in for Boris Johnson while he recovered from coronavirus, said people will have to get used to a "new normal".

"We won't just have this binary easing up of measures. We will end up moving to a new normal," he told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.

"We need to take a sure-footed step forward which protects life but also preserves our way of life. So we are very focused on doing the homework that can allow us to do that."

A classroom lays dormant (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

He said it was "inconceivable" schools could re-open without measures in place to stop the spread of the disease, but said ministers were looking to ease restrictions on outdoor activities.

"We do want to look - when it is safe, when it is responsible - at ways to allow more outdoor activities to take place, but again we have got to have the evidence that that is a sure-footed step - doesn't allow coronavirus to get a grip back on the country."

Labour's Rachel Reeves said that when it is safe to do so, the re-opening of schools is important as "young people are missing out on vital days and weeks and months of their education".

Speaking on whether it is possible to re-open schools without social distancing, she told BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show "For the youngest children that is going to be near impossible to have that distancing.

"But if you can reduce the class sizes, if you can have children outside of the school as much as possible, I think there are ways to do that."

Former deputy chief medical officer for England Gina Radford said she anticipates that the lockdown will eventually be lifted in stages.

In regard to how schools could reopen, she told Sky News: "Maybe reduce the numbers in the class, maybe have some classes going back one week and other classes going back another week, and their schooling being supplemented by continuing with online classes."