SCHOOLS in the Cotswolds are welcoming back pupils from today, despite criticism from scientists and teaching unions.

Anti-Covid measures have been brought in at the Cotswold schools opening their gates today to reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils.

Schools have taken steps to reduce contact for children and this will mean things will look a bit different.

Children will be in smaller groups and may be in a different classroom with a different teacher.

Schools may also need to limit the number of children they can take.

Which pupils can return is a decision for individual schools, with the health, safety and wellbeing of children, young people and staff at the forefront of every decision they make.

Whilst schools are responsible for making the decision on how they can operate safely, the county council has been supporting them with their plans including help with accessing PPE and signage.

From this week, every school in Gloucestershire will be supplied with an initial starter pack of personal protective equipment (PPE) by the county council, including: masks, gloves, goggles, aprons and sanitiser.

The council will also help schools to source their own PPE equipment in future, if needed.

Signs, stickers and tape are also available for schools to encourage social distancing and to put in a one-way traffic system around their building.

Cllr Patrick Molyneux, cabinet member responsible for education, said: “Schools in Gloucestershire haven’t closed - ninety per cent have remained open to children of key workers and vulnerable children since lockdown began in March.

"I’m really grateful for the work they’ve done in helping key workers keep up the fight against Coronavirus.

"Schools are working hard now to plan to increase the number of pupils attending, once Government guidance allows.

"The county council is playing its part to support schools to make sure they have the help and support they need to do that safely and appropriately.”

Priority will continue to be given to supporting vulnerable children and children of key workers.