TWO-THIRDS of Swindon’s primary schools are ready to open up to more children on Monday.

Figures supplied by the council show 45 of 67 primaries in the borough will have children from at least one of Year 6, Year 1 and reception groups in school next week as a degree of normality returns during the coronavirus pandemic.

A council spokesman said the remainder are getting advice on risk assessments and conducting staff training on the methods of working with young children needing to be physically distanced.

And the local authority is keen to thank parents for their efforts during lockdown and to reassure them schools will only open when they are safe.

The authority’s deputy leader and cabinet member for education Russell Holland has written to every parent of school age children in the borough.

His letter outlines that primary and special schools will be starting to reopen from Monday, and secondaries from June 15.

He said: “I know many parents will have concerns about schools opening for additional children and year groups and I want you to know the council understands these concerns.

“The safety of everyone who attends the school is our first priority. We are working with schools to support their plans for a gradual and phased reopening. Their plans will be guided by a thorough risk assessment, taking into account classroom space, the site of the individual school, staffing levels and the needs of their pupils.

"I want to thank you for your contribution to the national response to the coronavirus pandemic. I know that being at home with your children and supporting their continued learning, alongside your own work and other commitments, will have been challenging.

“Many schools have been open in order to provide education for children of critical workers and vulnerable pupils and I would like to thank the teachers, support staff, governors and everyone else who has worked so hard to make this possible.”

Coun Holland reiterated the message that parents do not have to send their children to school if they have genuine safety worries, and nor will the children be taken off the register.

He said: “It is not compulsory for parents to send their children to school at this time and there will be no penalties if you choose to keep your child at home. I therefore wish to be clear that this is your personal choice.”

He concludes: “All schools will continue to provide a home learning offer to pupils not accessing support on site where possible and will also keep in regular touch with the families of all pupils, whether or not they are attending school.”