Johnson: Reopening schools is safe if people wash their hands and keep their distance


Prime minister Boris Johnson said he believes reopening schools is safe providing people keep washing their hands and follow social distancing rules.

Speaking today at the liaison committee, Johnson was asked about whether he could guarantee a phased reopening on June 1 was “absolutely safe and of minimal risk”.

The prime minister said: “We know we can do it in a safe, socially distanced way. We accept not everyone will go back.

“We do believe it’s safe provided everybody remembers the guidelines we’ve set out and everyone understands the crucial things you’ve got to do – particularly maintaining social distancing and washing your hands and social isolating with symptoms. Those are the crucial things you’ve got to do, they can’t be stressed often enough.”

However this seems to jar with government guidance for schools which accepts that younger pupils “cannot be expected” to follow social distancing rules.

Instead, the government’s plan is to keep pupils in smaller “bubbles” that don’t interact with other groups.

When asked about whether the plan is still for all primary pupils to return to school before the summer, he said: “We’d like to do it if we can – it depends on our national success of keeping the disease under control. We’ll continue to review in accordance with the scientific advice.”

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  1. Gunsel Akyol

    The risk is not low enough yet. Nightmare for all teaching and non-teaching staff. I for one will not let my kids go back yet. Terrified at the thought … plus what happens if a child brings it home to vulnerable adults. Could it be that the govt wants a “babysitting service” so the economy can reopen. Again, money, GDP and the like before humanity. Thanks but no thanks.

    • Mark Watson

      No, not the economy before humanity, but a recognition that in order to be able to provide humanity there needs to be a functioning economy. In the world we live in schools are paid for out of tax receipts. No economy, no tax receipts. If the economy is crippled then not only will there be no money for schools (or anything else), there will be no jobs for school leavers.

      If you don’t want to send your kids back to school that is your choice. But you are presumably in the fortunate position of being able to make that choice. There will be plenty of families where the parents have no option but to return to work, and therefore need to send their children back to school.

      Every government in every country in the world has the same choice to make. If all you’re thinking about is immediate health and safety then there is no option but to have complete lock-down extended indefinitely. Health and safety is the most important factor at the moment, but governments can’t focus on health and safety alone.

      No, it’s not ideal. It’s life.

  2. Janet Downs

    Johnson says it’s safe if teachers wash their hands and keep social distance. That’s impossible with small children. Does that mean that if a teacher cuddles a child who’s upset or comforts a child who’s fallen over, they could be denied pay or compensation should they become infected because they didn’t obey the rules?

  3. Johnson: It’s safe as long as you maintain social distancing.
    DfE: We accept that young children can’t be expected to socially distance.

    These people have got to start CCing each other in to emails!