COUNCIL chiefs expect all primary schools across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole to open more widely from today.

While schools have remained open for vulnerable children and the sons and daughters of key workers throughout the coronavirus lockdown, the majority have been at home.

However, from today, teachers at primary schools across the conurbation will welcome the return of pupils in reception, year one and year six.

There remain concerns about the government’s decision to reopen schools.

Parents have been “strongly encouraged” to send their children to school but those who choose not to will not receive fines.

Councillor Sandra Moore, BCP Council’s portfolio holder for families and children, said: “All Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole early years settings, primary and secondary schools have been risk assessing their sites in relation to the need for social distancing and been in contact with parents about the measures they will put in place for keeping staff and pupils safe.

“From Monday, there will be a widening of the primary offer to parents with pupils in reception and years one and six and all Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole pupils in those groups will be on site, where it is safe for that to be the case and unless individual parents have chosen otherwise, as will vulnerable group and key worker children over the summer term.

“The Prime Minister and the Department for Education agree that this offer will vary in size and timing dependent on the size of the school and each school has already been in touch with the relevant parents to explain their offer and how to access it.

“The government has put its intention to open all of primary phase by July under review as they recognise the need for safe distancing.”

Across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole there are 96 state-funded schools, with 65 primary, 24 secondary and five special schools.

“Whilst some primaries will need to offer a phased return due to the requirements of social distancing, at the moment the Council is unaware of any primary school that does not plan to open more widely from next week,” said Cllr Moore.

“The government has decided that parents should be ‘strongly encouraged’ to have their children attend. However, parents will not be fined if they chose for their children not to attend school.”