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'Telling children they must not go close to their friends could do psychological damage' - NI principals call for guidance on school re-openings

With the two-metre social distancing rule in place, a maximum of just nine students can sit in one classroom

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Children of essential workers eat lunch in segregated positions at Kempsey Primary School in Worcester last week

Children of essential workers eat lunch in segregated positions at Kempsey Primary School in Worcester last week

PA

Methody principal Scott Naismith

Methody principal Scott Naismith

Lurgan College principal Trevor Robinson

Lurgan College principal Trevor Robinson

Children of essential workers eat lunch in segregated positions at Kempsey Primary School in Worcester last week

Schools across the country are desperate for guidance on how pupils can safely return in August, with a number of principals calling for a reduction to the two-metre social distancing rule.

In an email to parents Methodist College principal Scott Naismith said the Belfast school can only reopen in a "meaningful way" if the guidelines change to one metre, in line with the World Health Organisation's recommendation.

Elsewhere in counties Armagh and Down, a number of school principals have backed Mr Naismith and called on the Education Authority (EA) and the Department of Education to provide clear guidance on how pupils can safely return.