Close schools and colleges as part of national lockdown
Amid the speculation around a four-week lockdown to be announced by the Prime Minister, the National Education Union is calling for schools and colleges to be included in any such lockdown - and for rotas to be introduced at the end of the lockdown period. The union says that schools should remain open to the children of key workers and vulnerable children during such a general closure period.
Pointing to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union said:
“It is clear from ONS data that schools are an engine for virus transmission. It would be self-defeating for the Government to impose a national lockdown, whilst ignoring the role of schools as a major contributor to the spread of the virus.
Such a lockdown would impose pain on the whole community - but not be as effective as it could be if schools were included. Ignoring the role of schools and colleges in the spread of the virus is likely to lead to the need for even longer lockdowns in future.
The latest figures from the ONS estimate that 1% of primary pupils and 2% of secondary pupils have the virus and that these levels have increased dramatically since wider opening in September. NEU analysis of ONS figures shows that virus levels are now 9 times higher amongst primary pupils and an astonishing 50 times higher amongst secondary pupils.
The National Education Union called for a two-week circuit break over half term to include schools, which the Wales Government and the Northern Ireland assembly have done - but the Government in Westminster has ignored this call. More severe measures are now called for as a result, the Government should not make this mistake again.
The Government should include all schools in proposals for an immediate national lockdown and as a minimum be preparing for school rotas at the end of that period, including by actually meeting its promise to deliver broadband and equipment to those children who do not have them.
It is also vital that the Government ensure proper financial support for all those affected by lockdown including crucial supply teachers and other staff.”
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