MOST schools in the district have indicated that June 8 is the earliest they would consider reopening, according to the Bradford Council politician responsible for education.

Councillor Imran Khan – portfolio holder for education, employment and skills – says the "overwhelming" view of school leaders is that June 1 is too soon.

Schools are currently shut to most pupils, apart from the children of key workers and vulnerable youngsters, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Government announced that some year groups – nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6 – would be able to return from that date.

Cllr Khan says: "The council is continuing to work closely with headteachers across all school sectors in our district to ensure they have properly considered the health and safety risks to pupils and staff should they follow Government guidance and reopen on June 1.

“The overwhelming view of school leaders is that June 1 is too soon to open. Of course many schools are already open for children of key workers and for vulnerable children but those are in much smaller numbers. Increasing the numbers of children using schools means that the health and safety risk assessments change. We’ve said from the outset that we have no intention of forcing schools to open on June 1 and we won’t.

“What we will do, however, is continue to work with schools to support them in preparation for opening. Most schools have indicated that the earliest they would consider reopening would be from June 8. The council believes that the current advice and scientific evidence from public health means that not all of the five tests set out by Government for reopening have currently been met in order for all schools to go back on June 1. We will keep this under review.

“We are acutely conscious that children need to go to school and their life chances are diminished when they don’t. We are therefore working with headteachers and the Department for Education to make sure that schools will provide enhanced learning opportunities for all children and childcare support for vulnerable children and those of essential workers.

“We still want schools to open as soon as it is practicable and safe to do. We know that the decision to open is about balancing risk: the risk of infection from the virus, against the risks of children missing valuable education, the risk of isolation, and the risk to some of our vulnerable children.

“In Bradford, as nationally, the scientific evidence is continually changing along with methods of testing and tracking. We will continue to monitor that evidence and work with headteachers as they undertake the planning and preparation for their schools to reopen as soon as they can.”