By Rachael Grealish
Cumbria County Council’s Director for Public Health is calling for the county’s primary schools to remain closed at the beginning of term.
Colin Cox has taken to social media to make the announcement confirming he and the County Council’s Executive Director have jointly written to the Department for Education asking for Cumbrian primary schools primary schools are added to the Contingency Framework of schools not expected to reopen on January 4, 2021.
Following extensive discussions over the last 48 hours, the CCC Exec Director (People) and I have this morning jointly written to DfE formally requesting that Cumbrian primary schools are added to the Contingency Framework of schools not expected to open tomorrow.
— Colin Cox (@CumbriaDPH) January 3, 2021
Mr Cox goes on to write: “Driven by the new strain, rates in Carlisle and Eden are now very high, and are rising fast in other parts of the County – rates in Barrow, Copeland and Allerdale are doubling every 4-5 days. And hospitals are under pressure.
“We don’t have the capacity in the NHS to respond easily to further increases in rates. So while primary children may not themselves be at high risk, we have to reduce opportunities for transmission wherever possible to protect the wider community.
“We await the DfE decision and either way will of course continue to support schools to enable children to learn safely.”
The county jumped from Tier 2 to Tier 4 from December 31, 2020 meaning secondary exam year students would go back on January 11, and others would not go back until January 18 – minimising the risk of spreading the virus and giving more time for mass testing of secondary pupils.
However, in the county primary schools would be able to open their doors to all children from January 4 – however this has caused some amount of controversy.
Primary schools in London boroughs are among those which will remain closed under the contingency framework when the government made a U-turn in the New Year.
However teaching unions are now calling for the government to take action on all primary schools in areas of high case numbers and infection rates.