North Somerset Council is working with local schools to try and get children back safely as soon as possible in line with new Government guidance. The council is supporting all school leaders across the area with their work on arrangements to enable schools to open safely, and recognises the concerns about ensuring strict social distancing measures, particularly with younger and more vulnerable children.

Following the release of a series of new guidance documents, issued by the Department for Education last week, school leaders have been carrying out comprehensive risk assessments to understand what can be achieved in each school or setting.

Heads and teachers are best placed to know whether they can safely open their school and how many children they can keep safe and they also know their local communities. This Government announcement won’t be correct for every school or every child. We will treat these decisions on their merits and show trust in our school leaders.

There are some schools in which the safety guidelines can be met, and we will support those that can open from 1st June. But we also know that many will not be able to achieve that, and we support schools in their decision making.

We will not issue fines to those parents who choose to keep their child at home during this term.

We also support calls by the Local Government Association and teaching unions that all the relevant scientific advice on child transmission should be published immediately so that head teachers and families can make informed decisions. It will be important for heads to take time to undertake full risk assessments and only open to more children when it is safe to do so.

And of course we know that parents and carers know their children best and we support them in making the right decisions – whether to send their children to school or not – according to their own circumstances and the approach taken by their school.