Boris Johnson says social distancing set to be cut in schools telling Brits to 'watch this space'

BORIS Johnson has given a massive hint that the 2 metre rule in schools could be cut, telling Brits to "watch this space".

Speaking this afternoon, the PM has said social distancing rules could be cutin schools to allow more children to return.

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Mr Johnson said: "My message to all parents and all pupils is… schools are safe to come back to for early years, reception, year one and year six, year ten and year 12 in primary.

"Now is the time to come back, to get your kids back into school and of course on the social distancing measures, watch this space, we will be putting in further changes – as the science allows.

"We're moving now from a world in which we have to impose a huge one size fits all national lockdown program to one in which we are able to do more localised responses."

Mr Johnson said it was "absolutely" his goal to get all kids back to school five days a week by September.

"I want a world, where, as far as possible, provided we can make the classrooms safe – and I think we can – I want every child, every pupil every student back in September and I'm sure we can get it done."

The announcement comes after calls on the Government to scrap the 2 metre rule for schools before other sectors to get more kids back in classrooms.

Chair of the Education Select Committee MP Robert Halfon has called on ministers to put schools "first in line" to have the social distancing rule relaxed after Northern Ireland cut the rule to 1 metre for schools.

Mr Halfon told The Sun: "What they should do is possibly have different social distancing rules for different organisations.

"(The rule) might be able to be relaxed a bit in schools because there is low transmission of risk, so with low transmission (there could be) slightly different rules in different places."

He said he hoped schools would be "first on the list" for a relaxation of the social distancing rule because it could allow more schools to come back.

The comments come as Britain's coronavirus alert level has been lowered from four to three – paving the way for a relaxation of the two-metre rule.

This means the epidemic is in "general circulation" but community transmission is no longer high.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock described the move as “big moment for the country” and praised Brits’ determination to beat the disease.

The Government’s chief medical officers, led by Prof Chris Whitty, say transmission of the bug is no longer high or rising exponentially.

Documents released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have shown children are less likely to pass on coronavirus.

Mr Halfon added: "However kids go back (to school) is going to make them feel better, they'll be with their friends and socialising and learning.

"It's incredibly important and I would welcome any kind of return."

The Tory MP cautioned he believed the UK should follow the science when it came to changing social distancing rules.

His comments come after Northern Ireland Education minister Peter Weir said a 1 metre rule is "safe and appropriate" for children and young people at school.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last night he understood the interaction between lowering the 2 metre rule and getting more students behind desks.

He said the Government was working on what was needed to ensure all kids can head back to schools by September.

Boris Johnson has ordered a review into the 2 metre rule, the results of which will be announced before pubs are allowed to begin to reopen in early July.

Mr Halfon told the HuffPost No10 was treating MPs like "annoying hobbits of the shire" who do what they're told.

He said: "I love Tolkien so I’ve been re-reading Lord of the Rings and Dominic Cummings seems to have taken on the mythical status of Wormtongue to King Theoden of Rohan, and of the villain that everybody loves to hate.

“And MPs of course are considered by the No.10 policy unit as annoying hobbits in the shire…and we’ll just do what we’re told to do.

“I think sometimes they don’t understand the pressures from constituents.”

Classes for kids in reception, year one and year six are limited to groups of 15 and those in young years do not have to social distance within those bubbles.

But outside of those groups, children are expected to be kept 2 metres apart from their peers with one-way systems in corridors and staggered break times.

Older children in Year 10 and Year 12 returned this week for face to face support from teachers.

Teachers can do that one-on-one with pupils, or in lessons where older students should be kept 2 metres apart from each other "where possible".

 

 

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