A TEACHING assistant at a Basingstoke school says that the government’s plan to partially reopen some schools next week is putting them and their family at greater risk of catching coronavirus.

The member of staff, whose identity is being protected by the Gazette, said that they are “automatically” at greater risk of falling ill when pupils in reception, Year 1 and Year 6 return to school next week, and that Boris Johnson’s plan was “too big a jump too quickly”.

They added that it was “beyond human nature” to not comfort an upset or hurt child to try and social distance as best as they can.

And they added that whilst there were some parts of the Department for Education guidance that “makes sense”, it was “confusing” in parts too.

At the weekend, the Prime Minister announced that he was continuing with plans to reopen schools to some children on June 1, despite many parents not wanting to send their kids back and teachers’ unions saying it is too soon.

However, one teaching assistant from a Basingstoke primary school, which is set to welcome back three year groups, in addition to the children of key workers and the most vulnerable children that they have been looking after since lockdown began, has spoken out on the plans, saying that it will put teachers, pupils and families at greater risk of catching the virus.

“It fills me with nerves,” the member of staff told the Gazette. “I am looking forward to seeing the kids, but I am apprehensive and concerned about how the first day will go.

“I can’t wait to get the first few days out of the way, until things settle.”

And whilst they say that they are “longing” for the pandemic to be over and be able to “get back to normal and see the kids again”, the government’s plan for the resumption of schools is “understandable but too ambitious right now”.

“We have seven weeks in school left [until the summer holidays]. That is quite a long time to get learning done. I would love everything to be fine, but this is a lot of year groups at once.”

The teaching assistant adds that she understands why year 6 pupils are being brought back – they have a transition to secondary school upcoming – but that children in reception and year 1 can either catch up what they miss or continue learning from home for another two weeks.

“It will give teachers and students time to breathe and plan a bit better.”

However, they believe that year 2 pupils, some of whom will be moving from infant to junior school in September where they are not in the same school, should have been “at least considered”.

And whilst they agree with the government that social distancing at school is “impossible or extremely hard for most”, the rest of the guidance is “a bit wishy washy”.

“Not all schools are the same, but at the same time [the PM] came out saying that desks should be social distanced and children should be encouraged to social distance, but then he said we don’t expect you to.

“I wish he had stuck with one thing rather than going back on it, because at the end of the day we will do our best anyway.”