Social distancing in schools ‘almost unmanageable’

Schools have been closed except in limited circumstances for the children of key workers. Credit: PA

Social distancing in schools could be almost unmanageable, a headmaster has warned Stormont’s education committee.

A limited number of pupils are expected to return to classes in August.

However, people are supposed to stay two metres apart to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Stephen Black, headmaster at Ballymena Academy in Co Antrim, said: “Social distancing is going to be very difficult to achieve.

“It would nearly be unmanageable for schools if it is as strict as that.

“Much more of our delivery will be online than if those requirements were to be reduced.”

There is a growing sense in the community at large that young people are perhaps those with most to lose following this pandemic. They could be the unwitting victims of this.

Stephen Black, Ballymena Academy headmaster

Mr Black, who is a committee member at the Association of School and College Leaders, told Stormont's education committee that clear direction on reopening was needed by mid-June.

“It is very clear to us that it will be impossible for all the normal content in all the normal subjects to be taught to all the populations in the normal way, given the amount of time that pupils have missed from school,” he added.

He also expressed concern that youngsters would feel anxious about the amount of material they had missed, and said harm was being caused by ongoing restrictions.

He urged a cautious approach, while allowing pupils to return at the earliest possible point.

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