SCHOOLS on the Isle of Wight are set to open their classroom doors next week to more children.

Following government plans, the Island's pre-schools, nurseries and primary schools will welcome back nursery, reception, Year One and Year Six pupils after schools were closed at the end of March to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Some schools have stayed open during the lockdown period to look after the children of care workers and vulnerable pupils.

Cllr Paul Brading, cabinet member for children's services, education and skills, said: "I would like to reiterate my thanks, once again, to all early years education providers and our family of schools who have been looking after the children of key workers and vulnerable children since 20 March, including during the Easter and half-term holidays.

"At the same time, they have maintained contact with, and provided ongoing educational support to, those children and young people who, on the government's instruction, have stayed at home.

"In addition, over the past three weeks, they have dealt admirably with the enormous and unprecedented challenge of preparing for a phased return to school for specified year groups.

"It is a complex task and early education providers, school leaders and their governing bodies have had to work hard to plan and implement measures that will ensure that staff, children and young people can adhere to national guidance and operate as safely as possible.

"In so doing, they have been building on the government’s plans for a gradual, phased and initially small-scale return, allowing for local flexibility within schools in terms of class size, staffing, and the constraints of school buildings.”

The Isle of Wight Council has said that every educational setting which opens from Monday, June 1, will have undertaken a thorough health and safety risk assessment to identify the measures they will need to have in place to reduce the risk of spreading infection.

This includes minimising contact by having smaller class sizes and avoiding mixing between groups.

Education settings will have their own approach, based on the amount of space and number of staff available.

Parents and carers are advised to follow the information they receive from their education setting about the arrangements, including those for the home to school journey, that will be in place from Monday.

The additional numbers some schools will be taking in on day one will be cautious, and schools are planning to build up numbers over time, safely.

Parents and carers are asked to exercise patience over the first few days as schools will be working in new ways and it is better to be careful and safe, than rush too many children in at speed.

Unfortunately, in some schools it will not be possible to accommodate all children in all priority year groups while adhering to the national guidance, mainly due to school and classroom sizes presenting logistical problems.

To get to school, the government are advising that people should avoid using public transport as far as possible with children and young people encouraged to walk, cycle or scoot to school where it is safe to do so and to continue to follow the two metre, social distancing advice.

If parents and carers must drive children to school, they are urged not to car share but to transport only their own children.

Those who have no alternative to public transport should follow the government’s advice.

Cllr Brading said: "Our services for young children and school improvement team have been working with Island schools and early years settings to help providers and schools prepare for wider opening.

"Resources, experiences, and approaches are being shared across education settings, giving school leaders a wealth of information and support, which has helped them to make the best decisions to support their school community.

"That work will continue over the coming weeks to ensure schools have access to high quality advice and support."

Secondary schools on the Island are now planning for some part time face to face contact with young people in Year 10 from June 15, follow latest government guidance.