HALF of parents in Oxfordshire refuse to take pupils back to school

ALMOST half of parents across Oxfordshire refused to send their children back to classrooms yesterday as primary schools welcomed more pupils for the first time since March, an Oxford Mail poll has found.

Following Boris Johnson’s announcement last week children in Reception, Years 1 and 6 are now able to return, with many having been out of school for ten weeks, but many families remained reluctant.

A survey that asked readers whether primary schoolchildren should go back revealed that 45 per cent of voters have kept youngsters at home.

The numbers also correlate with national polls that showed many parents, councils and teachers remain sceptical of the government’s assurances over their safety.

Anxious mothers also took to social media to express their concerns.

One Facebook user Laura Simpson commented: “I have not sent mine back.

“It is a bit crazy to relax everything so much and expect parents to send their kids in before we even know how these measures have taken affect.”

While 17 per cent of voters were not sure what to do and said they were ‘worried it is too soon’, over a third of parents confirmed they sent their children back to classrooms.

One respondent Susan Milton said: “Yes, I will be, if the government says it is fine and safe for the children to go then I am happy for my children to go as people will be saying this for months and months and when September comes they will be saying the same – it is not safe but every child (has to) go back to school to get their education.”

Another two per cent of respondents revealed the reason they are sending youngsters to the classrooms is because they cannot look after them.

In an effort to encourage parents to return their children to school, the Prime Minister revealed that they have to follow strict social distancing measures – including limiting class sizes to 15 students.

Oxfordshire County Council also announced its own measures on Wednesday in preparation for welcoming back primary pupils from yesterday and other students from June 15.

The authority delivered ‘hundreds of thousands of personal protective equipment items to schools including aprons, gloves, visors and bottles of sanitiser.

They are also being asked to complete a risk assessment in conjunction with staff and union representatives.

Schools have remained open throughout the coronavirus pandemic for vulnerable children and those with parents who are key workers.

County councillor Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, cabinet member for Education and Cultural Services, said: “The health and safety of pupils, teachers and support staff is our number one priority.

“The teaching teams are incredibly dedicated.”

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