Council statement on primary school opening

Published Monday 4 January 2021 at 12:31

Councillor Julie Gunn, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education and Dominic Harrison, Director of Public Health, said in a joint statement:

This is very worrying time for parents and carers, teachers and support staff. I also note the strong concerns unions have rightly expressed for their members as well. I have no doubt this has been fuelled and made worse by confused public messages and decision making coming from government.

At present the Government is adamant that primary schools in tier four areas outside London and South East should be open this week. The rationale they have given us is their decision was based on the rates of infection in the community as well as the NHS’s capacity to cope.

Our rates, at present, are lower now than in November when we were urging government to implement further measures in our schools.

We do believe the best place for children is in school where they can benefit from face to face learning. This is especially important for primary school children.

So at present, based on advice from public health experts, we are not advising a blanket closure of primary schools. Ultimately though the decision is down to the individual school but as a Council we work with all our schools to make the right decision for their staff and their children on a case by case basis.

We will work with any school which believes it has no option to close.

It is a fast moving situation, trends are worrying and so all our advice and decisions will be kept under constant review. We also urge government to make sure their decision making is transparent and it clearly communicates any future decisions in a timely manner so parents, teachers and support staff are not left worrying.

Our schools and early years settings have responded brilliantly since the start of the pandemic. They have gone above and beyond, overcoming very difficult challenges, to provide the borough’s children with quality education.”

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