Primary schools in LB Hounslow, Ealing and Hammersmith & Fulham are amongst those forced delay the start of the new term in the latest Covid-19 restrictions announced on Wednesday 30 December. Children of key workers and those defined as vulnerable will still be able to attend. The closure of primary schools will be reviewed on 13 January, Boris Johnson has said.
Early years provision will continue, but school-based nurseries in primary schools have discretion to follow the same arrangements as the primary school.
The start of term will also be delayed for secondary school children, with pupils who have exams in 2021 returning in the week beginning 11 January, before the rest of the school. As with primary education, secondary schools are required to make on site education available for vulnerable children and the children of key workers from 4 January.
Schools are being told to return to teaching online. Secondary schools are also expected to use the time to develop plans for mass Covid testing of their pupils.
Covid cases ‘skyrocketing’
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced the delay in Parliament. He told the Commons the Government hoped the temporary shutdowns would cut rates of transmission in areas where infections of COVID-19 are skyrocketing.
The decision represents another abrupt change in policy. Two days earlier Michael Gove said primary schools would return on 4 January and there would be a staggered start to the term, with pupils in Years 11 and 13 returning on 4 January and other secondary school pupils returning a week later. Government scientists have been urging the Prime Minister to keep schools closed. and Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT, one of the main teaching unions, also wrote to the Education Secretary on Monday saying the schools should remain closed.
“Tough decisions” needed to be made
Andrea Carnevali, a parent at St Mary’s RC school in Chiswick told The Chiswick Calendar he is in two minds about the decision:
“Obviously at some point they were going to have to make some tough decisions, because the numbers are not going down.
“Schools are completely one of the places where infections spread; I had COVID a month ago and I never leave the house; I haven’t seen another human being in ages. I’m very careful, I wash my hands and wear a mask and yet I managed to get it, so I must have got it from my son.
“The school has had some COVID cases before but have handled it amazingly in the past, doing thorough cleaning overnight and how they managed to set up remote learning for kids who are at home too, so the school is prepared. I can see the reasoning behind the decision and obviously we will comply but it will be bad for all of us parents who are trying to work.
“We just have to stick to the rules, the reason why we’re in the state that we are is because people are not taking it seriously.”
In Chiswick the rate of infection went up 43% in the week before Christmas. There were 272 cases in the week ending 24 December, compared with 190 cases in the previous week ending 17December.
Laker Okelo, whose two boys go to Kings College School in Wimbledon, told The Chiswick Calendar:
“As painful as this decision is, I do think it’s the right decision”
Their school closed early in December because the cases were doubling every day and they were told one of their sons had been exposed to the virus from a child within his cohort who tested positive.
“Schools seem to be battling alone”
“Given the hard work teachers and school leaders have put into preparing, there is no support measure in place.”
“The schools seem to battling alone and having done all the hard work, you would expect at least the testing part to have been done by the Government to support keeping all children at school.”
The full list of areas where schools will be closed is as follows: Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield Hammersmith and Fulham, Havering Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kensington and Chelsea, Merton, Newham Richmond-Upon-Thames, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth, Westminster, Brentwood, Epping Forest, Castle Point, Basildon, Rochford, Harlow, Chelmsford, Braintree, Maldon, Southend on Sea, Thurrock, Dartford, Gravesham, Sevenoaks, Medway, Ashford Maidstone, Tonbridge and Malling, Tunbridge Wells, Swale, Hastings, Rother, Milton Keynes, Watford Broxbourne, Hertsmere, Three Rivers
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar
See also: Latest Covid figures in Chiswick
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