“I wanted to take this opportunity to reassure parents that our biggest priority is the safety of our residents – and that includes school children. With the government’s announcement to re-open schools, it is natural that parents will have a level of anxiety and worry.
“We have made it clear to schools that we expect them to open when they are ready and feel that it is safe to do so, and they have my full support. Their preparations to increase the number of pupils attending will be based on a thorough assessment and to a timetable that they will judge is safe for our pupils”.
At the time of closing schools in March due to C19 risks, Harrow council said it is doing so in the interest of the health and well-being (“We are sorry for the inconvenience this has caused, but hope you will understand that health & well-being is our priority”), but it is now silent about the government obsession to reopen schools on 1 June, endangering health and well-being of the school population/parents and carers.
Eighteen English councils and as many as 1,500 primary schools could defy government recommendations as local bodies query the decision to loosen lockdown measures for primary schools during the coronavirus epidemic which has resulted in at least 35,341 deaths in the UK so far (527 known cases of coronavirus in Harrow out of a local population of 250,149 – a rate of 2107 cases per million – the 13th highest rate in England).
The government has come under increasing pressure over the decision with teachers, parents, unions and councils questioning the reopening date.
Nearly 29,000 members of the teachers union NASUWT across England, found that around nine in 10 teachers believe that social distancing will be impossible, or will present major issues and a similar proportion are not confident that the proposed measures will protect their health or the health of pupils.
In a letter to the Education Secretary, Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the union remains “unconvinced” that wider reopening of schools from June 1 is “appropriate or practicable”.
Hope Harrow council would be able to issue a statement about reopening schools next month, keeping in view serious concerns by teachers, parents and carers.