Schools may ditch social distancing in September, reports say

Government expected to announce extended ‘bubble’ plan to ensure full reopening

Peter Stubley
Wednesday 24 June 2020 23:37 BST
Boris Johnson says 'watch this space' when asked if the two-metre social distancing rule will be reduced to one-metre in schools

Children will be able to return to school in September without having to stay one or two metres apart, according to The Daily Telegraph.

The government is reportedly planning to place large groups of pupils in “bubbles” to ensure full attendance for the new academic year.

Schools will instead have to focus on strict hygiene regimes and limit contact between classes or year groups, it is claimed.

The Telegraph, which has previously employed Boris Johnson as a columnist, quoted a Westminster source admitting “it will not be possible for schools to reopen for all pupils if a one metre or one metre plus social distancing rule is applied”.

Instead, the government’s plan means children inside each class or year group “bubble” will not have to keep their distance, and schools can reopen without having to find additional teachers and buildings.

Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, is expected to announce the arrangements for September next week.

Primary schools are already using bubble groups of 15 pupils, under the phased return to education that has taken place from 1 June.

Under the new plans, schools will be able to take a “flexible approach” to create bubbles covering an entire class or year group, the Telegraph said.

It follows hints from the education secretary last week that the two-metre social distancing rule could be relaxed for classes of up to 30 pupils.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “We will publish further information and guidance next week to help schools prepare for a full return in September.

“We are working across Government and with the sector to ensure these plans are fully in place.”

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