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Sheffield schools won't reopen next week: Health director expresses concerns around track and trace

Sheffield City Council has said it will delay reopening the city's schools until 15 June after seeking advice from the Director of Public Health.

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Sheffield's Director of Public Health Greg Fell. Photo by Sheffield City Council.

Maintained schools, which are run directly by the Council rather than as academies, were due to start increasing pupil numbers from Monday.

But the Cabinet Member for Education, Cllr Abtisam Mohamed, said the government's 'five tests' for reopening schools were not yet met.

"Sheffield City Council understands that this is an extremely challenging time for all living in our city," she said in a statement.

We are acutely aware that many schools may have already put systems in place for increasing numbers of children

"Following last night's announcement relating to the review of the current national lockdown arrangements, we have taken time to consider our position."

She said that the implementation of an effective test and trace system was essential to reopening Sheffield schools.

Other English councils including Liverpool and Hartlepool have written to parents to say that schools in their area will not partially reopen on 1 June. This is in direct defiance of central government, who want to see reception, year 1 and year 6 pupils return to the classroom.

"Locally, we do not feel confident that the recently announced NHS 'Test and Trace' programme is sufficiently well established and robust enough to effectively manage any local outbreaks of COVID-19," said Greg Fell, Sheffield's Director of Public Health.

The Council have set a new target reopening date of 15 June, and said that they "strongly recommend" academies and nurseries outside Council control delay reopening until that date.

"We are acutely aware that many schools may have already put systems in place for increasing numbers of children prior to this date," said Cllr Mohamed.

"However, our priority must always be ensuring the safety of our staff and the children is not compromised when the numbers are increased."

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