Union leader calls for four-week school closure ahead of second lockdown

Schools will remain open during the second national lockdown Picture: GETTY IMAGES / ISTOCKPHOTO

Schools will remain open during the second national lockdown Picture: GETTY IMAGES / ISTOCKPHOTO - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A union leader has called for schools to be closed in a bid to protect students and teachers from coronavirus.

Graham White of Suffolk NEU. Picture: ARCHANT

Graham White of Suffolk NEU. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Despite England being put into lockdown again from Thursday, schools are due to remain completely open with the government hoping to mitigate the damage caused to student’s progress.

However, a number of education leaders have called for the government to close schools to protect pupils, teachers and their families.

Graham White, Suffolk spokesperson for the National Education Union (NEU) called for a four-week closure of schools in a bid to reduce the impact on society’s most vulnerable people.

“The NEU has been calling for a different type of schooling since September,” he said.

“We said that when pupils go back to school it shouldn’t be on a full time basis.

“Social distancing at two metres is absolutely impossible in a classroom.

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“Our suggestion was to only have half the pupils in school at one time and then you can hopefully maintain social distance. That didn’t happen.

“Where we are now is that we have seen an increase in rates of Covid-19, we know that children don’t seem to suffer to the same extent as adults and are quite often asymptomatic.

“But they are still carrying the virus.

“We need to have a compulsory lockdown of school for four weeks and then after that period there can be some relaxation but that should either be in the form of a rota basis or blended learning.”

The union boss said the school was the “best place for students” but added that by reopening on a rota system, schools could ensure fewer Covid-19 cases.

This would therefore prevent SEND pupils and those from disadvantaged backgrounds from falling further behind as they would be able to be in school more often.

“Schools are absolutely the best place for children, we absolutely accept that but when you have a potential crisis it’s going to impact on the vulnerable and they have to be the priority,” he said.

“We need to prioritise those SEND children and also children from poorer families as they are the ones who lose out the most when there is a lockdown.

“We know the divergence between the most able and the least able gets bigger with children not being in school. That has to be our priority.”

“Children and parents safety has to be our priority and teachers will feel as much as they want to be in school as that’s the best place for children, they need to protect themselves and their families.”

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