Covid-19: Pressure grows to shut Shropshire schools

The reception class at Manor Park School and Nursery in Knutsford Cheshire

Schools have already been contacting parents directly if they do not intend to open as usual tomorrow, with parents from Hungerford Primary School reporting that it will remain closed to face-to-face teaching tomorrow.

"We are continuing to support schools with health and safety advice to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all children and staff". It's because a majority of staff invoked Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 - which guarantees workers' rights to a safe working environment - and are not coming in.

"We understand this will be hard, however we do ask any parent with concerns to speak to their child's school to discuss safety measures in place before keeping their child at home when the school is open to them".

Michael Gillespie, general secretary of the TUI, said teachers were "very, very concerned" about schools reopening given the "unprecedented increase in numbers" in relation to Covid-19 cases, and were "very interested" to see how the new variant is being assessed.

All of London's primary schools and those in some surrounding areas will not reopen until January 18 due to the fast-spreading variant of Covid-19.

The council confirmed that schools will remain open for vulnerable children and those of critical workers and urged everyone to follow the rules for Tier 4 - which West Berkshire was placed into just before Christmas.

Secondary schools and colleges in England will have a staggered return, with those taking exams this year resuming in-person teaching on January 11 and other year groups on January 18.

But it said it would continue to monitor "the rapidly changing national situation closely".

A number of West Berkshire primary schools will move to remote learning tomorrow (Tuesday), as a lack of staff will prevent them from reopening safely.

Schools are being encouraged to try and organise some face-to-face support for the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils, in order to support families wherever possible.

The city council's deputy leader and chair for children, young people and skills, Hannah Clare, said: "We feel we have made the courageous decision that the government wasn't willing to face".

"Schools may be safe for students, only because the students are very unlikely to develop severe symptoms, but they are unsafe because they provide an important vector for transmission to the community and to all staff within schools".

Speaking today, in advance of a meeting with the Department of Education and Skills, TUI General Secretary, Michael Gillespie, said that the very significant increase in COVID-19 cases, in the rate of positive tests and the R number, allied with the threat represented by the United Kingdom variant, have caused justifiable alarm.

The prime minister has insisted schools are safe and risk to children is "very, very low".

"We have been in contact with our head teachers throughout the weekend and they are dedicated to finding the best solution for your children; no one knows their school, their staff, their families better than our head teachers and they have our support, operationally and morally".

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