Coronavirus: Council to 'encourage' Lancashire schools to reopen

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School children
Image caption,
The council said the final decision on reopening rested with each individual school

A drop in Covid-19 cases and the implementation of England's test and trace system mean Lancashire schools will be "encouraged" to reopen from 22 June, the county council has said.

Lancashire's director of public health had warned against reopening due to fears of it causing a spike in cases.

However, Dr Sakthi Karunathini said there were now "encouraging signs" new infections had reduced in the county.

The final decision on reopening rested with each school, the council added.

Schools officially closed to the majority of pupils on 20 March, with only vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers permitted to attend.

In May, Dr Karunathini said there could be a spike in Covid-19 cases if schools followed government advice to bring back Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 Pupils from 1 June.

'Important advice'

However, in announcing a change in guidance, he said he was "now satisfied that there no longer needs to be blanket advice given to Lancashire's schools to delay reopening to more pupils".

"Each school should now take into account their own individual circumstances to determine if they can welcome more pupils... from 22 June," he said.

"There are a number of factors they must consider and one of the most critical is whether or not they are able to introduce effective measures to encourage social distancing."

He added that that was "important advice for us all", as while there were now fewer deaths linked to Covid-19 in the county, it was "important to stress that the prevalence of coronavirus is still higher in Lancashire than elsewhere".

Councillor Phillippa Williamson said the advice to reopen would be "welcome news for many parents and schools".

She said the coronavirus lockdown had been "a difficult time for many families across Lancashire" and added the council would "continue to support schools as they consider whether they are able to accept more pupils".

A council spokeswoman added that authority "recognises these are exceptional times", so any parent choosing not to send their child back to school would not face a fine.

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