Cllr Paul Brading

Island schools “have some practices in place already [to reopen safely]”, says the Isle of Wight Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services but warns they could face “uncertainty” about pupil numbers.

EXCLUSIVE

Cllr Paul Brading also acknowledges concerns raised by the Island’s teaching union – as previously reported – about Government plans to reopen schools gradually on June 1.

He told Isle of Wight Radio children will be “recommended to return” but “not forced to” and parents “will not be fined” if their children do not go back.

He stressed safety was paramount and Island schools have “adapted brilliantly to lockdown” – all remaining open – to teach vulnerable children and children of key-workers on the Island.

Cllr Brading said the number of Island children attending school during lockdown is “double the national average”, adding the near 3.5% figure changes on a daily basis.

He says schools are exercising some of the hygiene and social distancing measures in place by the Government already.

Cllr Brading told Isle of Wight Radio:

“Any partial reopening of the schools will take place in a cautious manner – the Government would not reopen schools unless it was safe to do so…

“We have to start somewhere with loosening lockdown”.

He also praised the efforts of the Island’s education sector and parents:

“I can’t thank and praise the education staff enough for what they have done during this lockdown, their safety is as paramount as the pupils…

“To have all our schools open during lockdown is brilliant…Parents and children have gone over and above.”

“You can’t beat being in a classroom with your friends – which I bet some children will have missed.”