YORK schools are planning a phased return of pupils from June 1 - with smaller classes, part-time attendance and staggered drop off and collection times.

Groups containing a small number of youngsters, known as ‘bubbles’, are being implemented, as well as outdoor working.

And minimising contact with different adults while observing hygiene and cleaning requirements are also being looked at to keep children safe.

The York Schools and Academies Board, which represents all schools in York, held its latest meeting on Monday to discuss the plans for reopening schools.

City of York Council says city schools are currently completing a risk assessment to determine whether it is safe to increase attendance from June 1.

A spokesperson for the council said primary schools will gradually add in new year groups based on their risk assessments from the week beginning June 1.

“This will not mean all children in each of the eligible year groups will be in school at the same time, or for the school day that starts at 9am and ends at 3/4pm,” they added.

Maxine Squire, assistant director for education and skills at the council, said: “Plans to open for additional year groups will be determined by the number of available staff and physical space, to ensure social distancing requirements can be met, and the safety of pupils and staff upheld.

“We will continue working with representatives from the maintained schools and all the city’s academy trusts, through the York Schools and Academies Board, to ensure that schools can open safely.”

Ebor Academy Trust, which has seven primary schools in the York area, has announced its initial plans for mainstream primaries, which are subject to the government’s key criteria being met.

The trust is looking to welcome back certain year groups gradually and on a part-time basis, with the schools reopening at some point during the week commencing June 1.

The year groups it aims to reintroduce include nursery, reception, Year 1 and Year 6.

It plans to introduce bubbles and wherever possible children will work and play outside, in the school playing fields, where there is an even smaller chance of infection.

Gail Brown, chief executive of Ebor, said: “Our initial plans are that most of our schools will be closed early in week commencing June 1 (other than for those priority children currently accessing schools) in order for all settings to be thoroughly organised, safe and ready for what will be a very new scenario.

"When places are provided for more children, these will be on a part-time basis. Due to children attending in small groups, all schools anticipate they are likely to be closed – other than for critical worker children, vulnerable children and children with educational health care plans – initially for up to a day a week in order to carry out ongoing preparatory work and a deep clean."

She added: “Looking ahead, we will continue to prioritise, above all others, those priority children who are still coming to school. We are working to explore ways where we can, if conditions allow it, gradually and in a phased way reintroduce children to school, in our primaries first from early years classes, then Year 1 and Year 6.

“However I want to emphasise these measures will be taken extremely cautiously, year group by year group, and only when we are confident to do so and in accordance with government guidelines.

“At the same time, we need to acknowledge that available capacity in our schools will dictate this pace and it is perfectly feasible that in order to maintain satisfactory distancing, there will be limits to the number of children who can attend.”

Ebor’s schools in York include Robert Wilkinson Primary, Haxby Road Primary, Hob Moor Community Primary, Hob Moor Oaks, Lakeside Primary, Park Grove Primary and Osbaldwick Primary

Meanwhile, in an email to parents, Andrew Daly, headteacher at Archbishop Holgate’s School, said that local secondary schools are carefully planning for a wider opening from June 8.

He said: “We want to make it clear that we will only open our schools to more pupils if we are satisfied the risks have been minimised according to government guidance. Vulnerable students and children of essential workers will continue to attend school in the same way as they are currently.”

In the email, he said following a meeting with secondary headteachers on Monday, they have agreed a number of key messages to be shared across their schools relating to the wider reopening.

“The overriding priority of headteachers, the local authority and academy trusts across the city is the safety of staff and students and the city is very much adopting a collegiate approach to the situation in which we find ourselves,” Mr Daly said.

“As such schools are carefully and cautiously planning for a wider opening from Monday, June 8, with the week prior to this being used for preparation and planning; training staff on the new school operational procedures will be a crucial element of this preparatory week.”

The email said, whilst individual arrangements may vary in each school, face-to-face interaction in all secondary schools will be on a part-time basis with provision designed to supplement online learning.

“We also recognise that the majority of students, those in Years 7 to 9, will not return to school this academic year and we will continue to prioritise high quality academic and pastoral support for these students and their families,” Mr Daly added.

At Archbishop Holgate’s, he confirmed that, subject to national guidelines and health and safety measures, the school is working to the following timeline:

l Year 10 face to face in school teaching will commence in school potentially from June 8. This would be on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with a third of the year group invited into school each day.

l Year 12 face to face in school teaching will commence potentially from June 15. This would be on a Thursday and Friday with half the year group in school each day.

North Yorkshire County Council is following Government guidance and advising schools to prepare to be ready to open from June 1 at the earliest.

Stuart Carlton, corporate director of children and young people’s service at the county council, said: “In line with Government guidance, schools will undertake a risk assessment in order to plan appropriate safety measures, which will also tell us if there are any schools in the county which can’t implement appropriate measures

“We are working with the schools, head teachers and the unions to support the preparation of schools and the decision to open by the head teacher and governing body.

“We have received queries from both head teachers and parents which are being responded to individually. Our teams are working with head teachers and unions to answer queries which have ranged from the re-opening of schools, to how transport and cleaning will be organised.”

He said parents will be encouraged to send their children to school. However, their attendance has not been mandated by the Government. “Parents will not be penalised for not sending their children to school at this time,” Mr Carlton added.

“We will continue to support the schools and education staff in any way we can and ensure a safe learning environment for children and staff alike, along with providing up-to-date information for parents who might be concerned about sending their child back to school during these unprecedented times.”