Sheffield teachers and parents raise concerns of getting children back to school

A Sheffield-based equal rights organisation has received dozens of complaints from teachers and carers in the city who are worried about how schools can safely re-open by June.

Friday, 15th May 2020, 10:25 am

Teachers, parents and carers across Sheffield are urging the government to re-think the decision to allow some primary students to go back to school when lockdown is relaxed –with concerns over safety.

It’s after Boris Johnson laid out lockdown easing plans, that would enable primary schools across the country to reopen “in stages” from June 1, if the rate of infection remained low. This would prioritise children in reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to go back first.

The Sheffield-based human rights organisation said it has received dozens of complaints from teachers and guardians in the city who are worried about how adults and children can socially distance while in school.

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

Director of Equalities and Human Rights, Chrissy Meleady MBE said: “The mass return of young babies, toddlers and other preschoolers is very risky due to it being impossible in such settings to enforce and maintain social distancing with larger numbers.

“On the one hand, government have said that in close up situations such as shops or on public transport, it is necessary for people to wear masks but that in schools and other early years settings, there is no need for this protection.

“This has amplified the concerns here even more for people here in the city and we're inundated with complaints about it now they are aware that the early years children have to return as well.”

Nationally, the human rights organisation received over 200 calls from parents and teachers yesterday evening who were concerned about the risks of primary schools opening their doors again.

Parent and carer, Jennifer Jones from Sheffield is one of the mother’s who plans to boycott the re-opening of school on June 1.

In a video posted to Facebook, she explained how “there’s absolutely no way” she’ll send her 8-year-old son who has autism, ADHD and a global sensory processing disorder back to school until she feels it is safe.

The director of Equalities and Human Rights also shared her fears for children with disabilities and complex medical needs returning to education.

"There is no guarantees from the government that they feel for the safe return of their children to school, particularly disabled children and those with complex medical needs”, Chrissy added.

“Parents, carers and workers on the ground, they're anxious and aggrieved in relation to it because they feel there has been little regard given to proper safe guarding measures.

"We had one teacher who said she had measured up a class room to see if social distance could be put in place and for a class of 25, only five of them could be in that classroom.

"So she's concerned from that perspective, how can she safeguard with social distancing if people are being told on the street that they have to social distance, but yet when they go into the classroom they are not to social distance.

"They can't understand the unfairness and the risk that children are being placed in.”