Some head teachers and councils in England have defied the Government’s orders to reopen today (4 Jan), telling parents they can keep their children at home.
Concerned about the growing rate of Covid cases in their areas, a number of schools have decided to close, despite being on the list expected to reopen.
Councils defy Government
Gil Denahm, head teacher of Marish Academy Trust which runs two primary schools in Slough, told parents she wouldn't be able to guarantee pupils or staff wouldn’t be exposed to Covid-19.
Berkshire Live reports that the head teacher wrote, “As a parent and grandparent myself, if I feel that the risk of my child or someone else in my family contracting Covid-19 is too high, if they attend school from Monday, I would keep them at home.
“It may be that this is the decision some of you come to for your own families. Rest assured, online learning will be provided for all those pupils who do not attend in person.”
Joining council leaders in Norfolk, Greater Manchester and Southampton, Slough Borough Council released a statement saying it would support any primary school’s decision to close. This comes after Brighton and Hove City Council defied the Government’s orders, advising primary schools not to open.
A letter from the leader of Southampton City Council said: “The Government has not shown clear leadership and refuses to engage with headteachers and trade unions’ legitimate concerns. It’s becoming apparent that there will not be enough teachers in all schools to reopen safely.”
A number of primary schools in North Essex, Derbyshire, Merseyside and Nottinghamshire have also defied the Department of Education directive and decided not to open.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has made a call to allow for head teachers and councils to keep schools shut where they feel appropriate.
School closures in England
On Friday night (1 Jan), Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson announced primary schools in London would stay closed after a rise in the Covid infection rate in the area.
Schools were closed in other Covid hotspot regions including Essex, Kent, East Sussex, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, urged ministers to "do their duty" and shut all primary and secondary schools to stem the tide of a mutant coronavirus strain.
Appearing on the Andrew Marr Show, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said schools are safe adding that “the threat to young people is very, very small, the risk to staff is very small.”
He went on: “I understand people's frustrations, I understand people's anxieties, but there is no doubt in my mind schools are safe."