BORIS Johnson must begin getting children back into classrooms next month, his own MPs and parents demanded last night.
The PM was warned that a swift return was vital to avoid risking “a lost generation” of kids from the country’s poorest families.
The PM must begin getting kids back to school next month, MPs and parents have demandedCredit: PA:Press Association
Boris Johnson has been warned that children risk becoming the ‘forgotten victims’ of the Covid pandemicCredit: 2021 Getty Images
The calls came after Health Secretary Matt Hancock hinted teachers will be vaccinated as a priority — but not before Easter.
Tory MPs and parents warned Boris Johnson last night that children risk becoming the “forgotten victims” of the Covid pandemic.
Former Cabinet Minister Esther McVey said “We genuinely seem to have forgotten about schoolchildren.
“They are the pandemic’s forgotten victims. We’ve got to start thinking about their prospects and futures.”
She added: “It’s time to get schools open, to safeguard children’s futures and to make sure we don’t let down an entire generation.”
‘LONG WAY TO GO’
Mr Johnson and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson faced a furious backlash after the Health Secretary hinted that schools would not reopen until Easter.
Matt Hancock said we have a “long, long way to go” before lockdown can be lifted.
His comment sparked uproar among senior Tory MPs who are demanding more clarity from ministers.
A dozen Conservative MPs have signed up to the “UsforThem” campaign to get schools opened up as soon as possible.
The powerful boss of the Commons Education Select committee, Robert Halfon, said Mr Johnson must use the full “engine of government” to get schools open again after February half term” — beginning in areas with lower Covid cases.
A dozen Conservative MPs have signed up to the ‘UsforThem’ campaign to get schools opened up as soon as possibleCredit: Getty Images – Getty
The Essex MP told The Sun: “Long after the coronavirus has gone, our younger children could be mired in a ditch of educational poverty, mental health crises and safeguarding hazards because of the damage of school closures.”
Mansfield MP Ben Bradley said: “Schools must reopen. Each day they’re out of the classroom, the most disadvantaged children are falling behind in their education, and their life chances are poorer as a result.”
Mark Harper, head of the Covid Recovery Group of Tory MPs, said: “As the PM himself said last August, ‘keeping our schools closed a moment longer than absolutely necessary is socially intolerable, economically unsustainable and morally indefensible’.”
It is feared some kids in areas with high Covid rates won’t be able to return to class until spring with Mr Williamson set to rule out any kids returning before February half-term.
Mr Hancock yesterday refused to put a date on schools returning.
He said teachers have a “good shout” of being high on the coronavirus vaccine priority list once the most clinically vulnerable have been jabbed.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is set to rule out any kids returning before February half-termCredit: PA:Press Association
Health Secretary Matt Hancock refused to put a date on schools returningCredit: Reuters
Former Cabinet Minister Esther McVey said schoolchildren seemed to have been ‘forgotten’ aboutCredit: Reuters
But health sources said this was unlikely to begin before April.
He rejected an offer from private schools and academies to jab all of the UK’s teachers at half-term at no cost to the Government, saying the challenge was “supply of vaccine”.
Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield told The Sun: “The first lockdown caused a huge rise in the number of children with serious mental health issues and widened gaps in learning, particularly for the most disadvantaged. Closing schools is bad for children.”
“The Education Secretary was right to say he hoped to have all children back in the classroom before Easter.
“If that is to happen, the Government will need to make sure primary schools start going back after the next half-term.”
Many parents claim their kids are suffering emotionally as well as educationally.
Jane Rowland, who has two children aged 15 and 12, said: “They’re missing friends, teachers, sports, the responsibilities going to school brings in terms of managing their day-to-day life — all of which is important for them to develop into confident adults.”
Company director Jane, of Cambridgeshire, added: “If all teachers were offered the vaccine at the earliest opportunity then schools should be able to return to normal.”
Mum-of-two Rachel Bird, of Bromley, South East London, said: “The Government must get schools open for all children — their education and well-being cannot continue to be sacrificed.”
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