OTLEY’S MP is calling for agreed safety measures to be in place before any schools are reopened.

The Government has announced that a phased reopening of schools across England could get underway from as early as Monday, June 1.

Its plan is to start with classes for the youngest pupils, in Reception and Year 1, along with those in Year 6.

Teaching trade unions, councils, teachers and parents, however, have expressed concerns that the move - which is not being followed by the rest of the UK - is being made too soon.

Those concerns have been backed by the British Medical Association (BMA) which is warning that COVID-19 infection rates are still too high for schools to operate safely.

MP Alex Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West) is calling on the Government to work with the unions to ensure that safety is at the heart of the reopening programme.

He said: “Returning to school when it is safe to do so is a priority for the sake of pupils’ education and well-being. But there are serious problems with the proposed plan to reopen schools on June 1, which parents and school leaders have raised.

“I am urging the Government to work with trade unions to create clear conditions based on the tests they have set out - this will make sure every school can put in place safety measures to ensure a safe return. For the safety of all staff and pupils schools should only reopen when they meet those conditions.”

Mr Sobel also criticised some sections of the media for their reporting of the issue. He said “I am disgusted by the way teachers - many of whom have been already putting themselves at risk teaching the children of key workers - are being villainised in the right-wing press. Looking at care homes, would you trust this Government to keep you safe?”

The Government has warned that prolonged school closures could damage children’s education.

But it has acknowledged that there are concerns about how schools ‘will be able to impose strict social distancing measures’. It has told the Local Government Association that: “A planning guide for primary schools has been issued to help leaders prepare to open their schools for more pupils during the coronavirus outbreak.

“The guidance covers a range of topics from preparing the site and reviewing staffing plans to practical steps to reducing risk and managing pupil and staff wellbeing and mental health.”