Classrooms will have to be altered to enforce social distancing rules. Photograph: Mwesigwa Joel on Unsplash.

Government plans have indicated that schools could re-open as early as June 1, but what do the teachers of the East Midlands think?

Plans for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to return to the classrooms in June have caused ongoing rows between ministers and teaching unions.

The safety of both teachers and pupils has come into question with scientists divided over what the risks of returning to the classroom amid the coronavirus pandemic will be.

“Personally, I think it is safer to keep children at home until we are sure,” said Emily Manasseh, 24, Year 2 teacher at Robin Hood Primary School in Bestwood.

“There has been a negative response within the teaching community regarding the re-opening of classrooms,” Emily added. “Although we all want to get back to teaching, the Government has rejected advice from the British Medical Association and is not listening to our hard questions.”

Some studies show that children may be key to spreading the virus as they are invisible carriers. So, with strict new measurements in place that will effect learning, is it worth re-opening classrooms across the UK?

“It will be difficult for those in younger years as they will have their toys taken away, which is a valuable part of learning for them,” said Emily. “We will not be able to emotionally support the children when they are upset, which will be incredibly hard for us.”

Other teachers in the East Midlands agree.

“It’s going to be tricky for the children to settle back in, particularly when school will not be how they remembered,” said Bethany Gerver, 23, Year 1 teacher at Grampian Primary Academy in Derby.

“I am worried for my safety, and the safety of my colleagues and our families,” she added. “My colleagues and I all really want schools to open again. However, we are unsure of whether or not it would be safe to do so as social distancing rules are going to be hard to follow.

“The younger children seek comfort from us through a hug or hand holding, so it’s going to be extremely difficult to not give this comfort and support when the pupils seek it,” Bethany said.

‘Carpet time’ will not be allowed under the new government restrictions. Photograph: CDC on Unsplash.

Schools across the country have put in place measures to avoid the spread of the virus, such as staggered drop-offs and one-way systems around the schools, but some worry that this will be taxing on the children.

“We should be looking more at the mental and social needs of the children rather than their academic results,” Emily said.

However, both teachers understand the importance or reopening schools in order to allow parents to get back to work.

Anna Bainbridge, 39 from Hertford, nurse and mother of two young children, is relieved that the schools are being re-opened. “I believe that any risk to my children is very low. They’ve had social distancing explained to them, so they are able to do it most of the time.”

But not all parents share this view. Amanda Leddington, 49 from Birmingham, whose son is in Year 1 said she would not be sending her child back to school.

“I think it is far too early for them to be going back especially the younger years who would be less inclined to socially distance or have a proper idea of what is going on.”