Headteachers and nursery owners in Preston have been told it is their decision whether they reopen on Monday June 1.Advertisement
The government in England has said primary schools can reopen once the half-term break at the end of May ends.
Lancashire County Council has said the decision on re-opening is one for head teachers, in consultation with governors, to make and they will support schools on the decision they make.
The government has said it wants to have reception, year one and year six pupils back in clases for a month before the summer holidays.
Private day nurseries are also considering whether they should re-open.
Many schools in the cities have remained open during the pandemic to accept the children of key workers and children classes as vulnerable.
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The opposition Labour group on Lancashire County Council, as well as council leaders from across the county and including Preston City Council leader councillor Matthew Brown, have urged the county council to order schools to delay reopening.
Cabinet member for children, young people and schools, councillor Phillippa Williamson, said: “Our schools have been doing a magnificent job throughout the lockdown period.
“We have been having productive and detailed discussions with our schools and the teaching unions. Lancashire is a large and diverse county and the decision about how many pupils it is safe to have in a school depends on context and geography and is therefore one for individual head teachers, in consultation with their governing body.
“They are best-placed to understand the safety, welfare and education of their pupils, and we will continue to support the decisions they make
“We realise that our parents will be looking for guidance from their child’s school and that this is the most important relationship. We are aware that schools have been working closely with their parents. Parents will of course choose whether or not to send their children back to school and they will be supported in this decision by the council. The council will not be fining parents or using other enforcement if they choose not to send their children back to school.”
Leader of the Labour group, county councillor Azhar Ali, has written to the county council’s chief executive Angie Ridgewell asking the county council to take a position on schools reopening.
Cllr Ali said: “Of course as a parent I want my kids to go back but I will not be sending my kids back until safety in schools for teachers, staff and kids can be guaranteed. Teachers have been contacting worried out of their minds about their real fears that social distancing can not be maintained and therefore we could end up with a second wave of Covid-19. I have no faith in the governments promises around testing as you only need to look at the chaos around care homes.
“Lancashire County Council should be clearer in its guidance and also make clear whether head teachers and school governors would be liable to legal action if someone got infected or worse.”
The full text of the letter can be seen in councillor Ali’s tweet below, tap the letter to see it in full.
Preston City Council’s leader councillor Matthew Brown said: “Added my name to the letter to Lancashire County Council from Lancashire’s Labour leader’s and unions representing teachers and other education workers.
“It’s not safe to reopen Preston schools as planned on 1 June. Let’s only do so when we are certain it is.”
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We asked our readers whether they thought schools should return
From the week commencing 1 June, the government is asking:
What do you think? Should schools look to reopen? Let us know your views in the comments below