Ros Jones, who like many other council leaders went against the advice of Government to start to allow pupils back on June 1, has said they have sufficient assurances and data on Covid-19 to allow partial reintroduction of pupils.
Schools will ‘need to adhere to government guidelines’ on physical distancing as part of these plans, which will mean schools’ plans will differ based on their available capacity.
Ms Jones and Dr Rupert Suckling, director of public health, have said they have changed their stance based on data about community transmission at a local level of Covid-19, availability of personal protective equipment and a proper understanding of capacity in schools.
The bioalert level for the UK remains at level four, which indicates a coronavirus epidemic is in general circulation and there is ‘high transmission’.
However, both the number of new hospital admissions from Covid-19 and the number of deaths have fallen to pre-lockdown levels.
The earliest schools can start to reopen to more children is Monday, June 15, but this is being left for headteachers and governing bodies to determine their own timescales depending on circumstances.
Parents ultimately have the choice as to whether they send their children back to school and there will be no fines for non-attendance.
Ms Jones said: “Schools have been working hard to get their premises ready to offer places to children and have been planning for accepting more pupils where they can.
“Part of this planning includes looking at the risk of infection transmission and how to mitigate against this so they keep children and staff safe.
“I am assured the three key points we needed to ensure were satisfied have been and it is now time for schools to consider their next steps.
“Of course, it is a matter for schools as to how and when they open to more children, but I would recommend, based upon the public health advice given to me, that they do so in a phased way and not to all of the year groups.”