A Kent MP has revealed school openings could be reviewed in just days amind ongoing uncertainty.
The prime minister this morning said parents should “absolutely” send their kids to schools that are open despite opposing advice from local politicians, teaching unions and the government’s own Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).
Tonight Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins tweeted that a decision could be made in days into which schools should remain open and his support for this will be depend on the infection rates locally.
His post included a response to head teachers in his constituency who wrote to him asking for information about the start of the new term tomorrow.
He said: “I have been told that the decision about which schools will be required to stay open will be reviewed in the next few days by the Department for Education.
“Should the local infection rates from Coronavirus continue to increase I would certainly support a switch to remote learning and have those views known to the minister.”
He said the decision was made last weeks when infection rates for the Folkestone district appeared to be declining.
He added: “However the point I have made to Nick Gibb is that over the last few days the infection rate has been rising and is above those in other districts where schools will be closed next week.”
It comes as 11 districts across the county were included in a nationwide list of areas with coronavirus infection rates too high to reopen primary schools.
But schools in the Canterbury, Thanet, Dover Folkestone and Hythe districts were told they could reopen, despite teaching unions, the leader of Kent County Council and SAGE all saying schools should stay shut after Christmas to stem transmissions in the classroom.
The National Association of Head Teachers is now starting legal action against the government in a bid to force ministers to reveal why they think it is safe for schools to reopen.
The union says it has “commenced preliminary steps in legal proceedings against the Department for Education” and is calling upon the government to “remove people in schools from the physical harm caused by the current progress of the disease”.
The leader of Kent County Council has also called on the government to keep schools closed in Thanet, Canterbury, Dover and Folkestone and Hythe.
Cllr Roger Gough (Con) wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson yesterday, urging him to allow primary schools to remain shut.
He said: “Yet most schools in Kent will under government rules have a delayed start; the public health justification for treating 4 districts (with still high infection rates) differently does not stack up.”
It contradicts Boris Johnson’s message that schools remain safe. Speaking on the Andrew Marr show on BBC One this morning, he said: “Schools are safe.
“The risk to young people is very, very small indeed. The risk to staff is very small.”
— to www.kentonline.co.uk