WHILE some schools in the North-East are preparing to open their doors to more pupils on Monday, many plan to delay.

Last night, many local authorities were unable to say how many of their schools planned to start reopening on Monday, in line with Government plans to start getting pupils in reception, year one and year six back to class.

In Middlesbrough, three local authority primary schools are expected to open on Monday, with about 90 per cent of its 41 schools aiming to restart the following week.

A spokesman said it was a matter for individual schools and academy trusts, with schools leaders working to decide how and when they will welcome more children back into the classroom.

Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston said: “Clearly most schools won’t return on June 1, but we want to explore every avenue so that the year groups that need classroom time the most can spend time with their teachers and friends before the summer.

The Northern Echo:

Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston

“Home learning is no substitute for some of our young people and we shouldn’t lose sight of that."

“In Middlesbrough we have some really disadvantaged kids who really need the routine of their school environment.

“I’m committed to finding a way to get kids back to school as soon as it’s safe. It’s so important for Middlesbrough’s children’s futures that we try everything we can.”

In North Yorkshire, 110 schools will reopen on Monday – about a third of primary schools – with a further 24 planning to open from June 8.

A spokeswoman for the council said parents were being encouraged to send their children to school, but would not penalise those who keep them at home for longer.

Judith Kirk, assistant director for education and skills said: “Schools have drawn up a bespoke approach to reopening, appropriate to their circumstances, but we want to reassure parents that when children come into primary schools in North Yorkshire, the first focus will be children’s safety and wellbeing, settling them in and making them feel secure, before we begin teaching the curriculum."

“So far 111 primary schools have confirmed they will definitely reopen the week beginning June 1, and a further 24 the following week, with the remainder of schools all preparing for reopening.

“We are working with schools, headteachers and teaching unions to support each school and the decision made by head teachers and governing bodies.”

When the Government first announced its plans, Hartlepool Council said its schools would not open on June 1.

Other councils, including Darlington, Durham, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton say schools are working towards reopening but have not said how many will be open on Monday.

Councillor Jon Clarke, Darlington's cabinet member for children and young people, said: “We have been in close contact with schools across Darlington during recent weeks, as headteachers and governing bodies worked hard to put plans in place to support possible re-opening.

"The answer to the question of what will be open and when varies from school to school. Parents can contact their child’s school to obtain the latest information on opening. As has been the case throughout, the safety of students and staff is the top priority for all concerned.”

Durham County Council says individual schools can decide when to reopen.

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Durham County Councillor Olwyn Gunn

Earlier in the week, councillor Olywn Gunn, its cabinet member for children and young people, said June 15 was a "more realistic" date for schools to work towards.

A spokesman for Redcar and Cleveland Council said all schools were "getting on" with making the right arrangements.

A council statement said: "The safety of our children is paramount and we remain determined to do all we can to support our schools who have continued to do fantastic work with all our children in school and at home during the lockdown.

"Following updated Government guidance, our officers have been supporting schools as the teachers and school staff make the sensible and practical arrangements necessary to provide for the return of more of our children to school from Monday and in the coming weeks."

No-one from Stockton Borough Council was able to comment on how many schools will reopen on Monday.

In a letter to parents, leader Bob Cook said: "Some schools will be ready to admit more pupils from 1 June, and some will not be.

"For that reason, we do not consider it necessary to set out an alternative timescale for schools to admit more pupils than has been set out nationally."

"Our expectation is that this will be slow, gradual, and subject to constant monitoring. 1 June is not a target for all schools to ‘re-open’ but the start of a gradual process, in line with national guidance and evidence."