Downing Street is under increasing pressure to re-open schools before May half term following a shattering forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility which indicates that the UK economy will shrink by 35% as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.
Some senior ministers are believed to be pushing for younger pupils, such as those that attend primary school, to return to school as soon as 11th May 2020 amid concerns that lockdown measures can’t realistically be relaxed until workers children resume full-time education.
A cabinet minister has told The Telegraph that action needs to be taken to rescue the UK’s failing economy. He said: “We have got to make sure this economic downturn is V-shaped and not L-shaped.
“We should be beginning to release the things that can be released - so primary schools should re-open and so should non-essential shops.”
Former leader of the Conservative Party, Sir Iain Duncan Smith agrees with the anonymous Tory source, saying: “Schools are important because they enable parents to go back to work, particularly primary schools because those are the children who are too young to be left at home alone. Re-opening primary schools is the key to unlocking labour.”
However, Dominic Rabb, the cabinet minister deputising for Boris Johnson as he recovers from coronavirus, is expected to extend the lockdown measures, including the continued closure of schools, for a further three-weeks when he delivers the governments daily update this Thursday.
In response to reports, a Government spokesperson maintains that schools will remain closed ‘until further notice,’ and will only re-open when scientific advice indicates it is ‘safe to do so’.
Schools across England and Wales were closed on 23rd March 2020 and are not expected to re-open until September, with GCSEs and A-Levels having already been cancelled.