Primary schools in the UK may re-open amid concerns there could be no economic rebound unless workers’ children get back to their usual studies, thereby letting their parents to return to work, The Telegraph reported.
One Cabinet minister quoted by the edition openly agitated for younger pupils to return to the classroom the sooner the better:
“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", he said, further explaining his stance:
“If you can go into Sainsbury’s to buy non-essential items while observing social distancing rules, why can you not do that in other shops?”
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former leader of the Conservative Party, agreed, 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".
The concerns over an unprecedented fallout became even more acute after Office for Budget Responsibility figures predicted the economy would shrink by a whopping 35 percent due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, which has already disrupted many economic networks and trade logistics.
Meanwhile, the government is expected to extend the measures for a further three weeks on Thursday, taking the possible end to the ubiquitous freeze to 7 May.
However, chances are that the quarantine will last even longer, as it had previously been suggested that pupils would not be back until after the Whitsun half term, which begins on 25 May, the late Spring bank holiday.
There is apparently no agreement in the Cabinet on the length of the imposed vacation.
One Tory source cited by The Telegraph suggested Education Secretary Gavin Williamson had been “flip-flopping” on the issue of re-opening schools: “He’s not really a decision maker. One minute he seems to believe schools should re-open but the next he’s being overly cautious. It’s hard to work out where he stands on it from one day to the next but he is having to balance a lot of competing interests", the source commented.
According to a Number 10 insider, Boris Johnson’s gradual return to work following a week in intensive care, along with his adviser Dominic Cummings sticking to own coronavirus isolation “would have an impact on the dynamic of the lockdown”. The insider suggested Cummings would be “worried” about lifting the restrictions way too early for fear the UK might suffer a second COVID-19 outbreak in the autumn “which could cause even greater economic damage".
On Tuesday, a teachers’ union wrote to Whitehall claiming its members are “disturbed” by suggestions schools could re-open, forcing its members “to take an increased risk".
According to updated WHO estimates, the UK, which has been in total lockdown since 23 March, has to date seen over 88,600 registered COVID-19 cases, with the epidemic resulting in at least 11,350 deaths across the nation due to complications the virus carries.