PARENTS fear schools across England will close again next month as headteachers start imposing their own “circuit breakers” to battle Covid.
Kids are already being sent home from classrooms and learning moved back online due to spiralling case numbers.
Parents fear schools will close again in the run up to ChristmasCredit: Reuters
St Mary’s Church of England Primary in Hereford and Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio in Lancashire have shut for at least a week.
And now campaigners fear many more schools could follow suit in the run up to the Christmas holidays.
They say children are being treated as “second class citizens” and must be allowed to stay in the classroom.
The move is being fought by parent group UsForThem, which battled to get kids back in lessons after last year’s lockdowns.
Mum Arabella Skinner told the Telegraph: “As the experience of last year shows, these isolated cases of school closures don’t stay isolated for long.
“The worry is that in the run up to Christmas we will see more examples of this.
“For how much longer are we going to ask our children to stay second class citizens?”
The group’s founder Molly Kingsley added: “We’re deeply saddened to see schools closing due to Covid.
“Kids have missed out on so much face-to-face time this year that they just need to be back in their classrooms and with their friends, learning and being children.
“To close schools at a time when adults are about to be enjoying Christmas parties and mixing seems especially unfair.
“It’s time we let our children get on with living their lives.”
Some headteachers are announcing ‘circuit breakers’ to combat rising Covid casesCredit: Reuters
Schools are only supposed to shut if all other measures have failed to contain the virusCredit: Getty
UsForThem said remote learning was a “failed experiment” and “not one we should be repeating in the context of a nearly fully vaccinated adult population”.
St Mary’s, in the village of Credenhill, closed its doors for a week yesterday to battle rising Covid cases.
Head Bernadette Davies wrote to parents saying “the purpose of this break is to act as a circuit breaker and cease the transmission of Covid-19 throughout the school”.
Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio, a secondary school for 13-19 year olds, is moving lessons online.
It told families children will have to learn remotely until at least next Thursday “in light of the number of cases and the advice given”.
Principal Colin Grand told the Manchester Evening News: “Like all small schools even a slight increase in staff testing positive for Covid has a significant impact on our ability to deliver face to face lessons.
“We have taken the difficult decision to build in a short circuit break and move towards remote learning until December 2 when we hope to welcome our staff and pupils back.”
Meanwhile, one primary school in Essex urged all parents to get their kids tested after five cases were detected.
It said pupils should stay at home if their PCR swab comes back positive or if they develop any Covid symptoms.
Department for Education guidance says schools can close in “extreme cases” but only as a “last resort”.
It says these should be “short-term attendance restrictions” and only “where all other risk mitigations have not broken chains of in-school transmission”.
The news comes after health bosses made a change to the UK’s testing rules in order to keep a cap on Covid in the lead up to Christmas.
The virus is being diagnosed in tens of thousands of people per day, and this may rise even further as the festive season picks up.
Lateral flow tests are swabs that can be conducted at home, giving results in less than 30 minutes.
They can be ordered for free online or picked up from pharmacies or workplaces.
Initially, the Department of Health advised everybody in England to use them twice a week in order to find cases of the virus in people who were not showing symptoms.
But it has changed its guidance with barely any notice to the public, experts say.
The website now says you should take a lateral flow test:
- if you will be in a high risk situation that day
- before you visit people who are at higher risk of severe illness if they get Covid-19
A “high risk” situation is deemed one in which you’ll be in an enclosed and crowded space, such as a club or party, or there is limited fresh air.
The advice remains that if you get any symptoms of Covid, you should get a free NHS PCR test urgently.
A spokesperson for the UK Health Security Agency said: “About one in three people with Covid-19 do not have any symptoms but can still infect others.
“Taking a free rapid lateral flow test before a period of high risk will give you peace of mind that you are unlikely to be infectious and able to spread Covid-19.”
It comes ahead of the busy festive period where people will be spending more time seeing loved ones, shopping or going to Christmas parties.