The National Education Union is holding an emergency meeting today to discuss the “chaos devouring our schools”

Chief correspondent
@ Joncraig

Boris Johnson is urged to close every school in England after an embarrassing U-turn by the government, meaning all elementary schools in London will remain closed next week

One union leader claimed that what is right for London is right for the rest of the country, urging ministers to “do their duty” and close all elementary and secondary schools in an effort to contain the coronavirus

The National Education Union’s joint secretary general, Mary Bousted, came after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson bowed to pressure to close all primary schools in the capital

Dr Bousted said her union would hold an emergency meeting today to discuss “the chaos affecting our schools”

In an abrupt reversal of policy following protests and threats of legal action by local authorities, Williamson also signaled that more schools outside London might close by warning that the list of closings would continue to be reviewed

On Wednesday, Mr Williamson said in a hastily arranged statement to MPs that the majority of elementary schools in England would close as planned on Monday the 4th January, to be opened

The Department of Education later published a list of 50 education authorities in the south of England – including 22 of the 32 London boroughs – where COVID-19 infection rates were highest and whose elementary schools were closed to most students for the first two weeks Term of office

But to the anger of council presidents, school principals, and MPs from all parties, the government’s list included some districts where transfer rates were relatively low and left out others where rates were high

Now, after the embattled Education Secretary’s final U-turn, elementary schools in all 32 London boroughs are closing to all but vulnerable children and children of critical workers

Announcing his rise, Williamson said, “Children’s education and wellbeing remain a national priority. Shifting more parts of London to distance learning is truly a last resort and temporary solution

“As infection rates rise across the country and particularly in London, we must take this step to protect our country and the NHS We will continue to review the list of local authorities and reopen the classrooms as soon as possible”

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But Dr Bousted told The Daily Telegraph: “The question needs to be asked: Why are education ministers so inadequate and incompetent? Who advises them? And what is right for London is right for the rest of the country.”

“With COVID infection at its peak and hospitals buckling under the tsunami of very sick patients, it is time for ministers to do their duty – protecting the NHS by following SAGE advice and all reason – And Secondary Schools Close To Reduce COVID Infection Numbers R-Rate Below One “

Dr Bousted suggested that a two-week closure could cause virus levels to drop after a period over Christmas when mixing may have resulted in infection

Dr Bousted also questioned plans to introduce mass tests in secondary schools, describing the preparations as “chaotic”

“Schools are going to find it incredibly difficult to get this up and running on time and doing it as well as public health because they are health professionals,” she said

The pandemic is getting worse by the hour @NEUnion has called an emergency executive meeting tomorrow Provide urgent new advice on planned opening of elementary schools on January 1st These developments affect those who return to work on Monday #MakeSchoolsSafe picTwittercom / WWLN961VsA

And another teacher union leader, NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said, “Once again, parents, students and staff are faced with the aftermath of even more chaotic last-minute government announcements

“In just a few days, the government’s plans to safely reopen schools will dissolve

“Elementary schools and parents in Tier 4 areas across the country will no doubt wonder why the government views the risks to their health and safety as less significant than other Tier 4 areas in London and the South East of England

“All teachers, teachers and students, regardless of where they live, work or be trained, deserve equal protection in the face of this extremely deadly and highly contagious virus”

Labor shadow education secretary Kate Green also highlighted the prospect of further school closings in Tier 4 areas outside of London and in the south east of England

“This is yet another about-turn by the government creating havoc for parents just two days before the school year starts,” she said

“Gavin Williamson’s incompetent handling of school and college returns creates tremendous stress for parents, students, and school and college staff, and damages children’s education

“However, Gavin Williamson has yet to clarify why some schools are closing in Tier 4 and what are the criteria for reopening”

Whitehall sources told Sky News the U-turn in London was a collective government decision made with the support of the UK Department of Health and local health authorities – and not “the stroke of a pen” by Williamson

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, backing the Secretary of Education, said: “Over the past week, infections and hospitalizations have risen sharply across London, and hospitals are coming under increasing pressure.”

“While keeping as many children in school as possible is our priority, we need to strike a balance between education and infection rates and pressures on the NHS

“The situation in London continues to deteriorate and so today we are taking steps to protect the public and reduce the spread of this disease in the community”

© 2021 Sky UK

School Closures, Elementary Schools

World News – UK – COVID-19: Instruct union to hold emergency meeting as Prime Minister faces all schools close in England