Kids won't be sprayed with disinfectant when schools reopen, Matt Hancock confirms
12 May 2020, 11:20 | Updated: 12 May 2020, 12:46
Holly Willoughby asks for reassurance from Matt Hancock that children will be safe at school
Health Secretary Matt Hancock responded to the claims during an appearance on This Morning earlier today.
Matt Hancock appeared on This Morning earlier today, and spoke to Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield about the recent announcement that schools may reopen for some pupils on June 1.
Following the Prime Minister's address to the nation on Sunday, there have been a number of questions about how schools will manage to reopen safely at this time.
There were claims from some teachers at the weekend that kids should be sprayed and disinfected as they entered the school, but the health secretary has said that this is 'absolutely not going to happen'.
Holly Willoughby opened up about concern for her son Chester, who is in reception and therefore one of the pupils that could return to education first.
She said: "I’ve got a five year old, and I know that he’d be in reception, he’d be one of the children going back. At that age, can they socially distance? Will they be kept safe? Is Chester going to have to go to school in a mask, is his teacher going to have to wear in a mask? Will he have to be sprayed and disinfected as he’s walking through the door? We’re all filling in the blanks."
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Matt Hancock responded with clarification on the disinfectant rumour, saying: "First thing is he’s not going to have to be sprayed with disinfectant. I did see that proposal from a union, that is absolutely not going to happen.
"We wouldn’t be proposing this [return to school] if we didn’t think it was safe. Children, thankfully, are very, very rarely affected by this, and even rarer indeed if they don’t have an underlying health condition. If they have got an underlying health condition that means that it’s a problem, they’ll have received a letter from the NHS.
"So It is safe for the children. But they also do risk spreading the disease, which is why we’ve limited this so much. We think that so long as the rate of new cases keeps coming down, we think that it’s OK to make this small change in the first place because education is also important. But we’ll keep a very very close eye on it.
"The most important message I want to get across to parents like me in these circumstances is that it is safe for your child at school."
His words come after Dr Mary Bousted - the joint head of teacher union the NEU - told The Times: "We think the announcement that schools may reopen from June 1 with reception and Years 1 and 6 is nothing short of reckless."
She added: "In China, children stand outside the school gates and are sprayed front and back with disinfectant, their shoes are sprayed, they wash their hands with sanitiser, they must take off their mask and replace it with a new one, and their temperature is taken remotely."
And when asked if the same should happen in this country, she replied: "Yes. They're doing that in China and South Korea and they have a minuscule number of new cases."