Just one-quarter of pupils in year 10 and 12 will be allowed to return to schools to see their teachers at any one time, according to the new Department for Education guidance.
Boris Johnson said when he announced his road map for easing lockdown that he wanted secondary school students in England who are facing exams next year to have some face-to-face time with staff before the summer holidays.
But the new guidance shows that in order for schools to adhere to social distancing rules the number of pupils allowed back will be capped at 25 per cent of normal levels.
As a result, the Government has made clear that remote learning provision must remain in place for the foreseeable future.
When Mr Johnson set out on May 10 his plan for easing lockdown he said he wanted to see the phased reopening of primary schools from June 1 and for some level of secondary education to also return.
The Government wants all pupils in year 10 and 12 to get some learning support from teachers before the summer break, starting from June 15 at the earliest.
But the latest Government guidance shows schools are being told to massively restrict the number of pupils returning on any one day.
‘We are asking secondary schools to offer this face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 pupils, which should remain the predominant mode of education during this term for pupils in these year groups,’ the guidance states.
‘Our assessment, based on the latest scientific and medical advice, is that we need to continue to control the numbers attending school to reduce the risk of increasing transmission.
‘Therefore, schools are able to have a quarter of the year 10 and year 12 cohort (for schools with sixth forms) in school at any one time.
Any plans that secondary schools have made for pupils to return earlier in June should be amended to commence from 15 June.’
The Government has also published a list of measures which schools can take to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Those measures include cleaning hands more often than usual, ensuring good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it, message and cleaning frequently touched surfaces often using detergents and bleach.
Schools have also been told to try to minimise ‘contact and mixing, as far as possible’.
That means keeping pupils in small groups for face-to-face support and ‘keeping those groups as consistent as possible whilst in school’.
The reopening of schools has been subject to weeks of wrangling between ministers, trade unions and councils with the latter repeatedly expressing safety concerns.
The latest guidance comes after some councils told secondary schools that they do not have to reopen on June 15.
Six local authorities told The Telegraph they would let local schools make their own decisions about when to reopen.
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More than 50 councils have voiced opposition to restarting reception, year one and year six classes on June 1.
Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said: ‘The people best placed to lead and decide on the timing of young people returning to school are the teachers themselves, working with their governors, communities and ourselves.
‘We will back them and work with them to deal with the consequences of their decisions. Secondary schools should be treated no differently.’
Both Solihull and Staffordshire councils suggested their advice would likely not change for secondary schools on June 15, leaving the decision to teachers.
Education is a devolved matter which means the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish governments can take their own decisions on when schools should reopen.