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School academy chief Steve Chalke believes schools could reopen safely using marquees


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A Kent academy boss says marquees could be the answer to social distancing in classrooms when schools return.

Steve Chalke, the founder of the Oasis Academy Trust chain, which is responsible for the Sheppey Academy, also said schools could only reopen safely if teachers were vaccinated.

Steve Chalke speaks tells KMTV his suggestions for safe school reopenings

And he floated the idea that schools could hire marquees to teach lessons, keeping children and staff compliant with social distancing measures.

He said: “What schools can't do at the moment is create space because no school was built double the size it needs to be just in case there was ever a worldwide pandemic that meant we had to essentially distance. So you've got to deal with that somehow.

“The government would need to put the money in but they're not very expensive, they could be put up in playgrounds and school playing fields, because that way you create more space and good ventilation as you can take the side off.

Rev Steve Chalke believes teachers should be vaccinated and marquees installed ahead of school reopenings
Rev Steve Chalke believes teachers should be vaccinated and marquees installed ahead of school reopenings

"We're heading into spring and summer, and so temperature won't be a problem. So you need to vaccinate staff and create space somehow. And that way you can open schools safely and sustainably.

“There are only a million school staff, so that's just over two days worth of vaccinations. And I think you could say to people, are you willing to wait, 48 hours longer for your vaccination so we can get schools open and keep them open?”

He described the government’s plan to lay out a road map for schools as unhelpful.

“It's not absolutely altogether sure what it's a metaphor for - if it's just a timetable, that's useless.

Marquees, like these ones at Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys, have already been used to ensure lessons can go ahead
Marquees, like these ones at Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys, have already been used to ensure lessons can go ahead

"What we need is to know now, or as soon as possible, what steps are going to be put in place so that we can open successfully safely and keep all schools open, which is what we all want to do. We are desperate.”

The government is expected to lay out plans for schools to reopen and children to return to lessons from March 8 but it is not clear how or if schools reopening will be phased or staged.

News from our universities, local primary and secondary schools including Ofsted inspections and league tables can be found here.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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