Primary schools in England could see Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils return to class from 1 June, the prime minister said tonight.
Boris Johnson made his announcement in the face of fierce teaching union opposition.
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He said: "In step two, at the earliest by 1 June, after half term, we believe we may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops, and to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.
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"Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays. We will shortly be setting out detailed guidance on how to make it work in schools and shops, and on transport."
Mr Johnson also said in his speech that the public has "shown the good sense" to support the social distancing rules "overwhelmingly" so far.
He added: "And though the death toll has been tragic and the suffering immense, and though we grieve for all we have lost, it is a fact that by adopting those measures we prevented this country from being engulfed by what could have been a catastrophe in which the reasonable worst-case scenario was half a million fatalities."
He continued: "It would be madness now to throw away that achievement by allowing a second spike."
However, his plans for schools were described by Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, as "nothing short of reckless".