Poll results: Children could be ‘guinea pigs’ if schools reopen in June, parents warn

Parents fear that children will be used as 'guinea pigs' with a June return to school. Picture: Dave

Parents fear that children will be used as 'guinea pigs' with a June return to school. Picture: Dave Thompson/PA Wire - Credit: Archant

Parents across Huntingdonshire fear that children would be coronavirus “guinea pigs” if schools were to reopen on June 1 – with more than 60 per cent urging a September return.

Out of nearly 1000 parents, teachers and pupils from Cambridgeshire who took part in a Hunts Post poll; 61 per cent said they would feel safe if students went back at the start of the new school year.

Only 12 per cent wanted children to return in June, citing worries of “further risk of infection”.

It comes as primary schools could reopen in just under two weeks - with the return of reception, year 1 and year 6 first.

One teacher from Cambridgeshire, who took part in our poll, said: “Our children and school staff are not guinea pigs.

“Students do not do social distancing because schools are not designed for this.

“They have narrow corridors and classrooms are not big enough.

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“This virus kills and could be brought home to vulnerable people - it is not worth the risk for a June reopening.”

While another parent from St Ives, said she feared children and teachers were “at risk”.

She added: “I understand that this is difficult for everyone, especially the students missing out on their work and social interactions, but I do not want to send my children back before we are given all assurances that students and teachers are not at risk first.”

Mental health was also at forefront of readers’ concerns with home schooling struggles and lack of PPE.

One parent, who favoured a June return, said “not enough work” had been sent out, while another added “something needs to be done with younger children and mental health even if it’s just one morning a week at school”.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s director of education, Jonathan Lewis, admitted earlier this month that some parents may not feel safe to send their children back.

“We will fall in line with the government guidance, which is obviously backed by the scientific knowledge,” he said.

“We have fed into the department for education our concerns and hope there is a degree of flexibility to the end of this term.”

The government is set to make the final decision on whether to press ahead with the reopening of schools next week.