Council leader welcomes U-turn on school closures
By Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter
The leader of Haringey Council has welcomed the government’s decision to allow the borough’s primary schools to remain closed to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
Cllr Joseph Ejiofor and cabinet member for education Cllr Kaushika Amin said in a joint statement that the U-turn “takes into account the best interests of schools and residents.”
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson faced criticism last week when Haringey was left off a list of London boroughs where primary schools would remain closed from January 4th – despite having a higher seven-day Covid-19 infection rate than 14 of the other local authorities.
On Friday, the government announced that “following a further review of transmission rates”, all primary schools in the capital would only reopen to the children of key workers and vulnerable children.
Haringey leader Cllr Joseph Ejiofor and Cllr Kaushika Amin, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for children, education and families, said: “We welcome this decision by the government, and it takes into account the best interests of schools and residents.
“The education and support that our primary schools provide to children in Haringey is fundamental to their lives. But when the Secretary of State took the decision to protect some communities from contracting and spreading Covid, he should have offered that same protection to all other communities that already had higher rates of infection.
“We and other London boroughs who were left off the original list have campaigned for this change. At Haringey, we have also written to the government and pledged that we would support those of our schools that agreed to close during this difficult time.
“This is a wise U-turn that helps retain confidence that decisions are being guided by science and we can help to stop the spread of the coronavirus together.
“We recognise that this will impact families across the borough, particularly at such short notice. We will be working closely with headteachers over the coming days and will ensure that families are kept up to date.”
The closure of primary schools in London comes in response to concerns over the rapid spread of a more infectious strain of Covid-19.
In the week to December 29, London’s infection rate was 903 cases per 100,000 people, compared to 477 cases per 100,000 for England as a whole, according to data from Public Health England.
The government will keep the list of primary school closures under review.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Children’s education and wellbeing remains a national priority. Moving further parts of London to remote education really is a last resort and a temporary solution.
“As infection rates rise across the country, and particularly in London, we must make this move to protect our country and the NHS. We will continue to keep the list of local authorities under review and reopen classrooms as soon as we possibly can.”
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