Education unions have said they are increasingly concerned that Boris Johnson will order all schools to open on March 8, which they say could lead to a resurgence of the virus.
A source involved in talks with the government saidIthat Department of Education officials have indicated ministers intend to reopen all schools in England on the same day.
The outgoing message from Whitehall led nine educational organizations to make the unusual decision to issue a joint statement warning that the reckless planner could trigger another spike in Covid infections.
i’s education newsletter: news and analysis as schools try to get back to normal
The declaration was signed by seven unions: the Association of School and College Leaders, the National Association of Headteachers, the NASUWT, the National Education Union, the GMB, Unison and Unite, as well as the National Governance Association, which represents the governors. school, and the Sixth Form Colleges Association.
We are committed to bringing all children and youth back to the classroom as soon as possible, it begins. However, it is counterproductive if there is a risk of causing a new outbreak of the virus and the possibility of another lockdown period. A wider opening must be secure and durable.
We therefore urge the Prime Minister to only commit to March 8 if the scientific evidence is absolutely clear that it is safe, and at this stage, do not go further than a gradual return of children and young people. with sufficient time to assess the impact before moving on to the next phase.
It continues: We are increasingly concerned that the government is determined to order the full return of all students on Monday March 8 to England.
It would seem like a reckless course of action. This could trigger another spike in Covid infections, prolong the disruption in education and risk throwing hard-earned progress in removing the virus during the last lockdown.
The organizations point out that a full reopening of schools will put around 10 million students and staff in England around a fifth of the population. This is not a slight easing of the lockdown restrictions. It is a huge step.
Instead, they urge the government to follow Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in taking a phased approach for England. Pupils from Scotland and Wales will start returning to school from Monday, while the phased return to Northern Ireland will begin on March 8.
A source who had discussions with the government said discussions with DfE officials had been positive. But they added: Officials keep saying that ministers want to open all schools on March 8.
The Prime Minister is due to present his plans to reopen the schools on Monday and the DfE has been contacted for comment.
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