By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter
Children in Croydon could be returning to primary schools as early as June 1.
But the Croydon branch of the National Education Union (NEU) does not think that it will be safe enough for primary schools to partially reopen by this date.
And Croydon NEU secretary Joseph Flynn says he will not be sending his own five-year-old twins back if their school does reopen at the start of next month.
He said the union has been busier than ever – he is currently fielding 50 enquiries a day, and 130 people have signed up as members of the union in the past week.
“The union position is that in all likelihood June 1 is going to be too early for people to safely go back,” said Mr Flynn.
The government is asking schools to reopen for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6
“I’ve got a lot of sympathy for headteachers, they don’t want to be in this position, nobody thought the youngest children would be going back,” added Mr Flynn.
“A lot of headteachers aren’t happy about it and are thinking hard about how it could possibly work.”
And the union rep added that he thinks it will be “extremely difficult” to socially distance in a classroom.
Government guidance currently states that there should be a limit of 15 children per classroom, but the NEU thinks even this is too high.
My Flynn said: “Our early thoughts are maybe 10 in a larger classroom.
“It won’t be possible to have social distance with kids of that age. My own kids would normally be able to run around.
“I understand why parents are worried about sending children back in – We are not going to send our children back on June 1.
“It is going to be a really odd experience for children because not all their friends will be in school.”‘
And concerns about social distancing are echoed by Robert Veale, headteacher of Atwood Primary School in Sanderstead.
In an update on the school’s website he wrote: “Although classrooms and breaks will be organised to minimise physical contact, social distancing with children cannot be enforced in the same way as with adults as recognised in government guidance.
“We feel we need to make this clear as we would not want to mislead your understanding of the realities of social distancing of children in a school so that you can make an informed decision as to whether you wish to send your child back to school.”
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