Northern Ireland news

Nearly half of children experiencing anxiety about Covid-19

Primary schools in England are to reopen to pupils from Monday

ALMOST half of children are experiencing anxiety about Covid-19 - but want to return to schools soon, a survey has found.

Primary schools in England are to reopen to pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, as well as nurseries, from next week.

Ministers are aiming for all primary year groups to go back for four weeks before the end of term.

Some local authorities have advised against the partial reopening of schools on Monday, however.

And principals have raised questions about what they should be planning.

They also have concerns about trying to accommodate all year groups, when they will be limited to 15 pupils per classroom.

Schools in Scotland will return on August 11 while some groups of pupils in Northern Ireland will start back later in the month.

A poll by children's charity Unicef UK found that more than three in five children said they were worried about the impact of coronavirus.

Just less than half - 47 per cent - said they experienced anxiety and worry.

Nearly three in five agreed that they found home-schooling either slightly or very stressful, while nearly a fifth said falling behind in school was a major concern.

More than half of children (54 per cent) surveyed said they either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that schools should reopen soon.

"We must not underestimate the value of children's perspectives and opinions on the issues that affect their lives," Joanna Rea, director of advocacy at Unicef UK, said.

"It is important that the government addresses the nation's children with a clear plan and provide a clear plan for their education, safety and wellbeing.

"Speaking with children and young people is not just the right thing to do, it would deliver better outcomes."

Meanwhile, Sheffield City Council has become the latest to instruct all local authority schools in the city to delay plans to open more widely until June 15.

Councillor Abtisam Mohamed, cabinet member for education and skills, said the recently announced Test and Trace programme would not be sufficiently well-established and robust enough to be in place for June 1.

"We do not yet feel assured that it is the right time and are advising our schools and nurseries to delay increasing numbers until June 15, 2020," he said.

"For maintained schools, where the council is the employer, we are instructing schools not to increase the number of children attending more widely. For all other schools, academies, and nurseries in Sheffield, we are strongly advising that they also delay their wider reopening to June 15."

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