Schools in Preston under the authority of Lancashire County Council have been told to delay wider reopening.Advertisement
The government had ordered primary schools in England to reopen on Monday (June 1) for early years, reception, year one and year six.
The county council had initially said it would support whatever decision each headteacher made but has now changed their advice.
Schools are open to the children of key workers and vulnerable children and have remained open to them throughout the lockdown.
In a statement released on Wednesday (May 27) afternoon the county council has said it is advising schools in the city, and county, to delay opening.
Director of public health for the county council, Dr Sakthi Karunathini, says the county council can’t be sure of meeting the government’s five tests for more pupils being brought back to school.
He said: “The safety and wellbeing of Lancashire’s children, families and school staff are of paramount importance to us. We have carefully assessed the five tests the government has set for the easing of the lockdown measures and, at this stage, we cannot say with confidence that all of them are being met in Lancashire.
“Therefore we are advising schools that they should not reopen to more pupils from 1 June. We will keep this advice under constant review and, as soon as we believe it is safe for schools to open, we will inform schools and the public.”
Headteachers, and nursery operators, can still choose to open from Monday but the county council says they are ‘actively encouraging schools to follow our (the county council’s) advice’.
The government’s five tests for easing lockdown measures include protecting the NHS’ ability to cope, a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rates from Covid-19, the rate of infection falling, adequate supply of PPE and testing capacity and be confident a second peak of cases doesn’t risk overwhelming the NHS.
The county council says it cannot meet the requirements for the fourth and fifth test – the testing capacity and PPE, and also not risking a second peak.
Further detail from the county council about its decision states:
“There has been no evidence of education outcomes worsening due to the effects of the government lockdown policy.
“It is not going to be possible to implement social distance in early years school settings.
“There is currently no evidence of widespread immunity in community settings.
“There is significant risk that should outbreaks occur in school settings, the current system for tests to be conducted in a timely manner and therefore, the virus will continue to spread.”
Last week the opposition Labour group, trade unions and the leaders of Labour-run district councils, such as Preston City Council, wrote to the county council’s chief executive Angie Ridgewell urging her to ignore the government advice and order schools not to reopen on Monday (June 1).
A poll of Blog Preston readers, conducted over three days on Twitter, showed 69% did not support schools returning on June 1.
Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines
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