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School closures in lockdown 2 and ‘rotas’ call backed by Preston City Council leader

Posted on - 1st November, 2020 - 5:06pm | Author - | Posted in - Health, Politics, Preston News, Schools
A book exchange at a primary school in Preston Pic: Tony Worrall
A book exchange at a primary school in Preston Pic: Tony Worrall

Calls for schools and colleges to close as part of the second lockdown have been made – and resisted by the government.

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Preston City Council’s leader is among those backing a two-week closure or ‘rota system’ for schools.

Councillor Matthew Brown, who called for a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown in October, said he felt secondary schools in particular could move to online teaching.

Preston’s College will resume in-class teaching on Monday (2 November) after a two week ‘circuit breaker’ of its own to include the October half-term – the move by the college won praise from Cllr Brown who said other education institutions should follow suit.

Cllr Brown told the Lancashire Post: “Nobody wants to see the education of children and young people affected – but if the public health evidence is that you’ll reduce infections by encouraging post-11 learning online, then you can’t ignore it.”

Read more: Cllr Brown gives his reaction to second national lockdown

What are the unions saying?

The National Education Union want schools and colleges to be included in the national lockdown in England which begins on Thursday (5 November).

They also say rotas should be introduced following the end of the lockdown period.

Joint general secretary of the NEU Kevin Courtney 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.”

Latest ONS data estimates one per cent of primary school pupils and two per cent of secondary school pupils have the virus, and the number of pupils with coronavirus has risen rapidly since September.

See the latest coronavirus stats and information near you

The union has said the government must support disadvantaged pupils to be able to access online teaching resources if any closure of schools would take place.

They also state schools should remain open for children of key workers and also children classed as vulnerable.

The unions have been backed by the Mayor’s of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region, who both favour a two-week closure of schools in late November.

Read more: These are the full restrictions for the second national lockdown in England

What do the government say?

Cabinet minister Michael Gove appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show to answer questions on lockdown two.

He said the government was doing everything possible to keep schools open.

He rejected the suggestion that it would mean a longer period of lockdown because schools staying open would contribute to the continued transmission of coronavirus.

The Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday 31 October made it clear schools, colleges and universities should remain open.

Lancashire County Council said at this stage there was no plans to close schools or push for a move to online teaching, but a spokesperson said they were monitoring developments.

Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines

What do you think? Should schools stay open? Or should they close? Let us know your views in the comments below

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