SHROPSHIRE’s schools will get to decide for themselves when it is safe to allow more children to return and what safety measures to put in place.

Staff will be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) and children will be encouraged to socially distance from their friends under plans to allow children in reception and years one and six back to the classrooms on June 1.

Shropshire Council has told all schools will carry out their own risk assessments and said they will only be allowed to welcome pupils back once these have been completed and agreed.

To limit contact, changes could include different pupils attending on different days, changes to school start and finish times, and staggered break and lunch times.

A council spokesperson said: “Before schools open up to wider cohorts, each school will undertake a risk assessment which will determine whether wider re-opening can be achieved and if a phased reintegration is necessary.

“We do not expect schools to open more widely until the risk assessment has been completed and agreed.

“Shropshire Council recognises that for many schools a phased re-integration will be appropriate. We will support schools’ judgement in this matter.”

The authority said the gradual re-opening would therefore vary from school to school, based on classroom sizes and staff availability.

Schools will review their plans each week to consider if it is safe to invite more children into school.

The council said emergency packs of PPE were being distributed to all schools in preparation, adding that parents and guardians will still have the final say on whether to allow their children to return.

Children who are shielding or clinically vulnerable, or live with someone who is, should remain at home.

A letter to parents from Karen Bradshaw, executive director of children’s services and acting interim chief executive, and Rachel Robinson, director of public health, said: “Schools will work very differently, at least for the rest of this term.

“Class sizes will be small and schools will implement social distancing as far as possible.”

The letter sets out plans for pupils to form “social bubbles”, spending time in the same class group during lessons and breaks, and working with the same staff members as far as possible.

It adds: “This will not be a one size fits all approach but will be tailored to your child’s school”.