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Lancashire County Council issue statement about primary school reopenings

Posted on - 3rd January, 2021 - 2:20pm | Author - | Posted in - Education, Fylde News, Health, Politics, Preston News, Ribble Valley News, Schools, South Ribble News, Wyre News
A book exchange at a primary school in Preston Pic: Tony Worrall
A book exchange at a primary school in Preston Pic: Tony Worrall

Primary schools across Preston and South Ribble should return as planned on Monday (4 January) says Lancashire’s director of public health.

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Amid growing calls from teaching unions for primary school pupils across England to see a delayed return, the government has ruled out keeping them closed after the Christmas break.

Lancashire County Council has taken the step of issuing a statement on their position regarding primary school reopening.

Read more: Ribbleton primary school to remain closed due to Covid-19 rates

Cabinet member for children, young people and schools, councillor Phillippa Williamson, and the director of public health and wellbeing for Lancashire, Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, have issued a joint statement.

Cllr Williamson said: “Since the pandemic began, schools and early years settings across Lancashire have done a remarkable job, continuing to teach young people either remotely or in person in safe, Covid-secure environments. Throughout they ensured that the children’s needs come first, with special attention being given to those from the most vulnerable families and from families of key workers.

“Clearly the best place for children is in school, not just for their education but for their social, mental and physical wellbeing. Having looked at the infection rates in Lancashire and following advice from our public health experts, we are not advocating a blanket closure of primary schools across Lancashire at this time.

“The ultimate decision on whether to open remains with each individual school. Each of those schools knows their own circumstances best, and we will support them to help make the right decision for their pupils and staff.”

Dr Karunanithi said: “Although infection rates are on the rise in Lancashire, we are not in the same situation as London and the South East of England where the new variant has really taken hold. That means that we can and should encourage schools to stay open where they can. Clearly this is a fast-moving situation and must be kept under constant review, both locally and by government.”

See the latest coronavirus cases and information near you

Three primary schools in Preston have already said they will not re-open on Monday 4 January, Blessed Sacrament in Ribbleton, Lea Community Primary School and Fishwick Primary School.

On Wednesday 30 December the education secretary Gavin Williamson had outlined how secondary schools would see a staggered return through until 18 January, and primary schools in a small number of high infection areas would follow this staggered reopening too.

But on New Year’s Day, amid growing pressure, the government u-turned and said all London primary schools would now delay reopening to classroom teaching until 18 January.

Read more: These are the full tier-4 restrictions for Preston and Lancashire

Over the weekend there have been growing calls from teaching unions and medical professionals to delay the reopening of all primary schools.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show during Sunday morning to give his view on primary school reopenings.

He urged parents to send primary-age children back to school this week.

Mr Johnson said: “Schools are safe. It is very, very important to stress that.

“I would advise all parents thinking about what to do, look at where your area is, overwhelmingly you’ll be in a part of the country where primary schools tomorrow will be open.”

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