Preston’s daily coronavirus cases recorded their largest daily increase in weeks as a number of primary schools in the city decided to defy government advice and stay closed.Advertisement
New coronavirus figures for Sunday (3 January) showed the city recorded 138 positive cases.
South Ribble also went back over 100, with 103 new confirmed cases for the same day.
Wyre was up by 91, Ribble Valley recorded 80 cases and Fylde had 51.
See the latest coronavirus cases and information near you
Preston and Lancashire remain in tier-4 restrictions, meaning a ‘stay at home’ order has been issued, non-essential shops must close and you can only meet one person from another household outdoors at any time.
Lancashire County Council appeared to give headteachers the flexibility to delay reopening after the Christmas holidays.
During Sunday (3 January) the county council’s cabinet member for children, young people and schools, counillor Philippa Williamson, urged primary schools to re-open.
But she also said: “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.”
Within an hour three Preston primary schools, that Blog Preston is aware of at this time, have announced they will be staying closed to pupils until Friday 15 January at least. The government has said all primary schools, apart from those in London or places with high Covid-19 infection rates, should re-open on Monday (4 January).
The headteacher of Fishwick Primary School cited staff following their union advice not to come into the workplace, while Ribbleton’s Blessed Sacrament’s headteacher said it was down to ‘safety’ as ‘infection rates were rising’.
Read more: Lea Community Primary School headteacher’s letter to parents about Covid-19 closure
Lancashire’s director of public health Dr Sakthi 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.”
Preston City Council’s leader councillor Matthew Brown urged all primary schools in the city, and in Lancashire, to defy the government and remain closed.
He said Covid was ‘out of control’ nationally. His call was backed by other Labour-led district council leaders including South Ribble Borough Council’s leader councillor Paul Foster.
Read more: NHS recruiting for Covid-19 vaccine roles in Preston and South Ribble
On Sunday morning Prime Minister Boris Johnson had appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show to say schools were ‘safe’ and pupils should return as planned to primary schools on Monday (4 January).
Mr Johnson said: “Schools are safe. It is very, very important to stress that.
“I would advise all parents thinking about want 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.”
Secondary schools are to have staggered re-openings, with exam-year pupils going back on Monday 11 January and all pupils then back on Monday 18 January.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is pushing for a third national lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during his interview with Andrew Marr, hinted that further restrictions may be necessary as the new variant of Covid-19 continued to spread rapidly after seeing rates in London and the South East escalate.
Labour leader Starmer said: “The virus is clearly out of control.
“We can’t allow the Prime Minister to use up the next two or three weeks and then bring in a national lockdown which is inevitable.
“Do it now. That’s the necessary first step to get the virus back under control.”
Read more: Call for Prestonians to support local traders during tier-4 restrictions
Starmer said the lockdown should be implemented in the next 24-hours.
Mr Johnson, appearing on Marr, said: “It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that will be tougher in many parts of the country.
“I’m fully, fully reconciled to that.
“There are obviously a range of tougher measures that we would have to consider.
“I’m not going to speculate now about what they would be, but I’m sure that all our viewers and our listeners will understand what the sort of things… clearly school closures, which we had to do in March, is one of those things.”
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