The government has announced that it expects children in England to be able to return to nurseries, reception, year 1 and year 6 from 1 June, and other primary year groups to return before the summer.
The chief scientific advisor to the Department for Education yesterday told the Commons science and technology committee that there is very little evidence to suggest that children transmit the virus any differently to adults.
Haringey Labour is deeply concerned about the lack of scientific evidence to support the safe return to school. We call on the government to step down from their planned reopening of schools until they can provide evidence that reassures our communities that no risks are being taken by reopening schools to all pupils.
Most schools have remained open during COVID-19, and have done an incredible job looking after vulnerable children and the children of keyworkers, but before all children return to school it is essential that the government provides assurances that doing so will not increase the spread of COVID-19.
Haringey’s position on this is led by the current science and the concerns raised by school staff and the unions that represent them.
We endorse the Education Unions’ joint statement on the safe reopening of schools that sets out principles and rests that the government must meet for the safe reopening of schools, including local autonomy to close schools where new cases of COVID-19 are present.
Cllr Joseph Ejiofor, Leader of Haringey Council said: “This council has a duty to, above all else, keep Haringey residents safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Now is not the time to take risks and Haringey’s dense population and high proportion of BAME residents, who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, presents risks for reopening schools.
“It’s unacceptable that the government has placed schools in this situation when they have not provided a shred of evidence that suggests that 1st June is the best time for schools to reopen. The lack of scientific evidence suggests to me that the decision to reopen schools is not solely driven by public health concerns.
“This is not a ‘one size fits all’ decision, and the government should give powers to schools and local authorities to make decisions on a case-by-case basis, taking local factors into account.
“Until the government releases their scientific evidence to back up their claim that it is safe to do so, it must step down from the planned reopening of schools. If schools are not confident that it is safe to open on 1st June, they should remain closed.”