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Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, responding to the Government’s plan to reopen schools to all children in September, said:

“I have been calling for some time on the Government to set out how to get all children back into school after the summer holidays, so I am pleased there is now a comprehensive plan. The damage being done to the wellbeing, education and life chances of many children is growing by the week, and it would be a national disaster if schools are not open to all by September.

“The Government and schools must now work together to make this plan happen, putting in place a rapid test and trace system to reassure teachers and parents. It must also run a communications campaign for parents so that they feel confident about sending their children back to school. But above all, there needs to be a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude to ensure that the will and resources are there to make this work.

“The sacrifices made by children during the lockdown have been enormous. We must repay that by making sure that every child returning to school after six months away gets the help they need to get back on track. I am concerned that some children will really struggle to adjust, and schools must work to prevent a spike in exclusions or off-rolling. The Government should also recognise the impact of this crisis on many children’s mental health and commit to an NHS-funded counsellor in every school.”

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