OUTSIDE Brighton, the majority of primary schools in Sussex are expected to begin reopening on Monday.

The Prime Minister confirmed on Thursday that children in nursery, reception and Years 1 and 6 will be able to return to the classroom on June 1, after most pupils were sent home amid the coronavirus lockdown.

The decision on opening rests in the hands of each school’s headteacher.

West Sussex County Council said 192 of the 228 primary schools in the county (almost 85 per cent) will begin the phased reopening next week, subject to risk assessments.

East Sussex County Council said it did not know the exact number, but expects “the vast majority” will be open in some capacity from Monday.

Brighton and Hove City Council expects no schools to reopen next week after advising them it is not yet safe to do so.

When they go back, pupils in Sussex will be asked to stay two metres apart where possible and wash their hands regularly.

Break and lunch times will be staggered, and parents have been told not to gather at the school gates, in the playground or enter school buildings when they drop off or pick up their children.

Teachers have voiced concern. Asked about the number of schools in East and West Sussex reopening, Vicky Hemstadt, a Reception and Year 1 teacher at Middle Street Primary School in Brighton, said: “I have concerns about the wider reopening of schools given that recommendation from the independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies is that schools should not reopen on June 1.

“It would be significantly safer for children, families and teachers to wait until June 15.”

In a report published on Thursday, the independent SAGE committee found that “delaying a school reopening by two weeks (to June 15) approximately halves the risk that a child will be infected and delaying the reopening till September is less risky still”.

Last week, Vicky was among several teachers who told The Argus of their worries about the Government’s plans.

She raised concerns about young children being able to social distance, and said it would be “a mammoth task to make schools safe”.



• The coronavirus Sussex Crisis Fund has been set up to help those affected by the pandemic. The Argus’s charity and American Express have each donated £50,000 to kick-start the appeal. Grants will usually be for up to £5,000. More information is available at www.sussexgiving. org.uk/apply. To donate visit www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/sussexcrisisfund