Teachers in Cumbria are working to decide how and when to reopen their classrooms after the county council gave them the final decision.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced earlier this month that schools could begin to reopen from the start of next month and, following consultation with schools and trade unions, Cumbria County Council has decided to allow individual schools to determine how and when that will happen.

Children from nursery, reception, Year 1 and Year 6 are allowed to go back, in addition to the children from vulnerable groups and children of essential workers who have already been able to attend since the country entered lockdown in March in a bid to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The Government has also asked secondary schools to offer some face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of Year 10 and Year 12 pupils.

Joanne Ormond, headteacher of Maryport Church of England Primary School, said: “Heads are working together as clusters of schools to come up with the best way to do this. It works better for schools in that it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.”

A joint statement from Sue Blair, chair of the Cumbria Primary Heads Association, and Judith Schafer, chair of the Cumbria Association of Secondary Headteachers, expressed reassurance at the willingness to “find local solutions that are appropriate for their context, the needs of young people and their communities”.

They said: “The challenge for all schools will be to ensure the quality of education remains high within the constraints of risk assessments, including safe staffing levels and PPE.”

A letter from the headteachers of the 12 schools in the Workington and District Primary Heads Association said: "This plan is under constant review, so details will vary from school to school depending on need and each individual school's risk assessments.

"When we as heads have more definitive details and clear guidance we will contact our own families to discuss our school's capacity and what we can offer for our communities.

"We ask that you understand this is not the 'norm' and we are working hard to ensure that our schools will be as safe as possible for the return of our children and staff."

Sue Sanderson, the county council’s cabinet member for schools and learning, said: “The council has worked closely with schools to provide support and guidance all the way through this situation and the approach to reopening builds on that good work."

Parents and carers will still decide whether or not to send children back to school and, if they choose not to, will not be fined nor face any other punishment.