North Yorkshire education bosses are backing plans for pupils to return to classrooms on June 1 amid concern about the plan from unions and local authorities elsewhere in the country.
North Yorkshire County Council says schools will undergo a rigours risk assessment before they welcome back some students in two weeks’ time.
Officials said they were responding to reopening concerns from headteachers and parents, with queries ranging from school transport to cleaning.
Plans are being drawn up on how social distancing can be maintained in classrooms.
Measures are set to include smaller class sizes, socially-distanced desks and staggered arrival and break times.
Parents will be encouraged to take up schools places, unless the child or a family member is shielding.
But families who choose to keep their children at home will not face fines.
Councils including Bury, Hartlepool and Liverpool have decided to go against Government advice by announcing they will not reopen schools next month.
But Stuart Carlton, corporate director of children and young people’s service at North Yorkshire 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 headteacher and governing body.”
Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT, the UK’s second-largest education union, said members supported schools reopening, but only if they could be made “covid secure.”
“The bottom line is that no teacher or child should be expected to go into schools until it can be demonstrated that it is safe for them to do so,” he said.
“Schools are looking to the government for clear and unequivocal guidance on the health and safety measures they will need to have in place prior to reopening.”
NASUWT has also backed calls for councils to be given powers to close schools if testing indicates coronavirus clusters.
Dr Roach said this will be “vital” in controlling a second spread of the virus.
In a joint letter to education secretary Gavin Williamson, several union officials said parents and staff need “full confidence that schools will be safe before they return.”
The letter outlined “key principles” that officials say must be met before schools reopen, including the launch of the national track and trace scheme.
The government had been planning to roll out the app – which is currently being piloted in the Isle of Wight – by the middle of May.
But ministers have now conceded schools could reopen before the coronavirus tracking app has launched.
Despite this, the government has stood by its ambition that primary school pupils in all year groups could go back for a month before summer. [kofi]