Children's Commissioner for England Anne Longfield told ITV's Coronavirus Q&A programme that she is keen to reopen schools as much as soon as it's safe.

Ms Longfield answered questions from ITV News viewers on children's anxiety about returning, parental fears and the potential for pupils having to redo the school year.

Tony asks: The test and trace system is due to start on 1st June, so why not get it up and running first?

"I've been keen to get schools back up and running as soon as it's safe. There have been children who have missing out on their routine, their friends and especially their education.

"In reality there will be some schools who go back on 1st of June, they will be the ones with the larger buildings, they may feel more confident with that, and others will go back from the coming weeks from there."

A classroom incorporating social distancing. Credit: PA

Helen asks: How can teachers possibly get younger pupils to keep apart?

"I think the short answer with that is: probably they won't. "A lot of the nurseries that have been operating throughout the coronavirus emergency have let children mix with each other in smaller groups, but they’ve not had to social distance as that would be quite difficult and it would probably be quite distressing too.

“I think it’s possible, it needs a lot of attention to detail, we’ve seen in other countries how it can be done."

James asks: What about all the children who are petrified at the prospect of returning to school?

“Children have been anxious during this period. They’re not the ones that have been at the most risk in terms of their physical health because of this virus but they have been anxious.

"Their daily routine was swept away overnight, they’ve been isolated from their friends, they’re often worried about their own extended family, too. This is a big change again, so it has to be for every parent to decide when over the summer term that it’s right time. I am sure it will help if they see other children are there and if they can go round the school and see what is going on.

“There will be some children where schools isn’t always a happy place, perhaps they are bullied in school or have difficulties wit the school and maybe they’ve found relief at being at home."

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