Cornwall Liberal Democrats are backing calls for all primary schools to move to remote learning until 18 January and are urging Ministers to use that time to “get ahead of the virus” and publish a clear plan to open schools safely.
While Cornwall Lib Dems want schools to remain open for vulnerable children and those of key-workers, they have warned the Tories have “squandered every opportunity to get ahead of the virus” and are “wreaking havoc on people’s lives”.
The intervention comes amidst growing concern for safety in schools, including headteachers launching legal action to force ministers to reveal data behind the decision for some schools to reopen.
Cornwall Liberal Democrats are urging the Government to review testing strategies in schools and publish a plan that includes a move to single-school transport and a new pupil bubbling strategy to tackle the new more transmissible strain.
Commenting, Pat Rogerson, Lib Dem Chair of Cornwall Council’s Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee said:
“With the government’s own scientific advisors saying that they cannot provide any analysis on what is required to control the new strain of the virus until mid-January, the Government must think again and adopt a plan to get ahead of the virus.
“Time and time again, this Government has squandered opportunities to get ahead of the virus in schools and left pupils, parents and teachers understandably anxious if not terrified about returning next week.”
Parliamentary spokesperson for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, and primary school teacher, Florence MacDonald added,
“For months, Liberal Democrats have been calling on the Government to come up with a proper plan to keep schools open safely. Instead, this latest botched decision and the Tories top-down attitude has once again led to last minute and inconsistent decisions that are wreaking havoc on people’s lives.
"Given this new strain of the virus transmits faster, Ministers must think again to get ahead of the virus.
“Moving schools to remote learning now is a temporary and essential measure to prevent our NHS from being overwhelmed at a time when cases in Cornwall have doubled in a week. This will allow for the new variant to be better understood, for the number of cases to come down and for new measures to be put in place to make schools safe such as planned testing and vaccines for teachers.”