SCHOOLS across the borough are working together to explore the methods in which they can allow pupils to return safely.

It was announced in a nationwide press conference, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on March 18, that all schools across the country should close their doors due to the threat of coronavirus.

Since then, schools in Barnsley, and across the country, have been allowing children from key worker households to attend school as a way of childcare.

Coun Margaret Bruff, cabinet spokesperson for children’s services, said: “Most schools are seeking to extend their offer on June 1 for the stipulated age groups for vulnerable children or those of key workers.

“A small number of schools take a two-week break at half term and in these cases, they will welcome pupils at the earliest opportunity on June 8.”

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With lockdown restrictions seemingly loosening, Boris Johnson announced in a recent press conference that the country may be in the position to begin getting primary-age pupils back into schools.

Starting with reception, year one and year six, and then nurseries and other early years providers, are expected to return at the earliest opportunity.

Secondary school pupils sitting exams next year have the chance to see their teachers before the end of term - though there are no plans for other secondary school students to return to school before the next school year which begins in September.

“Regular conversations have been taking place regarding how schools prepare for and safely extend their current offer, via the Barnsley Schools Alliance and regional partners,” Coun Bruff added.

“Schools have been exploring the implications of the government’s guidance and are beginning to talk individually to parents and carers - they will each have their own plans as it will all depend on school size and capacity.

“We are in line with partners across the region in terms of issues around some of the challenges and complexities around children returning to school.”

In a survey conducted by The National Education Union, 85 per cent of its 49,000 members said that they disagreed with the suggestion of restarting lessons for some year groups, and 92 per cent said that they would not feel safe with the proposed wider opening of schools.

Since the announcement, teachers, students, and parents alike have shown their concern around the re-opening - but the council want to reassure the public that the safety of the community is paramount in their plans.

“There is still a lot of work ahead to manage this, but the most important issue is how this is going to feel for children and families,” Coun Bruff said.

“We’re very sensitive to this issue and want any return to school to be a positive experience, which means a focus on managing children’s resilience and wellbeing.

“We will continue to support schools with their plans for a safe phased return for teachers and pupils.”