Ian Watkinson, Lancashire’s representative on the executive of the National Education Union, has made calls to keep school closed for a week after their half term break.Advertisement
The opinion comes as the Indian Covid variant sparks concern of a ‘third wave’ in the UK.
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Mr Watkinson suggests the combination of the half term and then an extended period of remote learning could act as a ‘circuit breaker’ in preventing the spread of the new variant. After speaking with the National Education Union, he wrote to two of Lancashire’s directors of public health officially requesting a fortnight-long half-term closure for schools in Blackburn with Darwen and Burnley, which then both had the highest case rates in the county.
Lancs Live via the BBC Local Democracy Service reported that Mr Watkinson said: “If things continue on the same trajectory, we are going to be fire-fighting outbreaks in the way we have been doing previously – the science points to it.
“SAGE [the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies] recommended a circuit breaker last year and it was ignored – and we saw what happened.
“Clearly, it’s schools that are driving transmission. We have got people travelling across boundary lines between boroughs, so it’s spreading.”
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Lancashire districts currently account for eight out of the top 20 worst-affected areas in the UK on the Covid case rate measure – Blackburn with Darwen (1st), Rossendale (3rd), Hyndburn (4th), Ribble Valley (9th), Burnley (11th), Preston (12th), South Ribble (13th) and Chorley (19th).
Matthew Brown, leader of Preston’s Labour party has agreed with the call for a ‘circuit breaker’ as he believes in taking a ‘safety approach’.
Do you think the circuit breaker is the right thing for schools? Let us know in the comments.