By Rachael Grealish
England is officially set to move into a second lockdown next week, but unlike in Spring schools and universities will remain open.
This news has received backlash from the National Education Union (NEU) which is calling for schools and colleges to be closed through the lockdown period, which starts Thursday November 5.
The Union says that schools should remain open to the children of key workers and vulnerable children during such a general closure period.
Pointing to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, Kevien Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union called out the government to acknowledge the role of education establishments for their part in the rise in cases.
The full statement said: “It is clear from ONS data that schools are an engine for virus transmission.
“It would be self-defeating for the Government to impose a national lockdown, whilst ignoring the role of schools as a major contributor to the spread of the virus.
“Such a lockdown would impose pain on the whole community – but not be as effective as it could be if schools were included. Ignoring the role of schools and colleges in the spread of the virus is likely to lead to the need for even longer lockdowns in future.
“The latest figures from the ONS estimate that 1 percent of primary pupils and 2 percent of secondary pupils have the virus and that these levels have increased dramatically since wider opening in September.
“NEU analysis of ONS figures shows that virus levels are now 9 times higher amongst primary pupils and an astonishing 50 times higher amongst secondary pupils.
Mr Courtney continued to say the government had ‘made a mistake’ not introducing a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown over half term – an idea promoted by the leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer.
“The National Education Union called for a two week circuit break over half term to include schools, which the Wales Government and the Northern Ireland assembly have done – but the Government in Westminster has ignored this call. More severe measures are now called for as a result, the Government should not make this mistake again,” he continued.
“The Government should include all schools in proposals for an immediate national lockdown and as a minimum be preparing for school rotas at the end of that period, including by actually meeting its promise to deliver broadband and equipment to those children who do not have them.”
The NEU joint General Secretary concluded the statement discussing the necessity of financial support for staff impacted by the new lockdown.
“It is also vital that the Government ensure proper financial support for all those affected by lockdown including crucial supply teachers and other staff.”