Following the decision by the Government to re-open schools for certain pupils from 01 June, despite the opposition of teachers who declare this would be unsafe, Imran has called on Bradford Council to follow Liverpool Council’s move to keep schools closed until teachers and are confident it is safe to do so

Whilst some schools remain open for the children of key workers such as those in the NHS, the vast majority of schools across Bradford remain closed, However, on 11 May, the Government announced that they would ask nurseries and primary schools to reopen for early years, reception, year 1 and year 6 children, and secondary schools to offer face-to-face support for year 10 and 12 pupils.

Yet just days later whilst appearing before the House of Commons Education Select Committee, the Department for Education’s Chief Scientific Adviser admitted that the reopening of schools could bring together hundreds of potential Coronavirus carriers who may not present symptoms, but instead pass it onto others in their household, and that the Department had “not done any modelling” on the impact of Coronavirus in classrooms.

Consequently, the National Education Union, others and hundreds of individual teachers have come out in opposition against the Government’s plan, declaring that questions about the safety of reopening schools had not been addressed and that both teachers and pupils could be put at risk. This has been supported by the British Medical Association, the largest doctor’s union who have stated that the number of Coronavirus infections remained too high for schools to reopen safely.

Due to the fears of teachers and parents, Liverpool City Council has been the first local authority to declare that “schools can only re-open to other pupils when it is safe to do so”, and With just over two weeks to go before the planned reopening, Imran has urged Bradford Council to follow the strong example set by Liverpool in safeguarding teachers and pupils in schools across the District.

Speaking on his opposition to the rushed return of schools, Imran said:

“It is important for pupils to be able to go back to school as soon as possible as it is our most disadvantaged children who are missing out, but we must never compromise on the need to ensure that they and their teachers are safe when schools reopen. No parent should have to put their child in an environment that they or teachers believe is unsafe.

“If we do not put safety first, we risk creating hubs of reinfection that the Department for Education’s own Chief Scientific Advisor has been unable to rule out, and the National Education Union and others, as well as individual teachers and parents, are right to raise serious concerns over safety and the preparedness for a return of schools on 01 June.

“The Government’s approach has been too rushed and too sudden, with too much pressure placed on schools, and they are wrong to try and shut down the concerns of teachers. Instead of trying to demonise them, Ministers must engage with them constructively to deliver a dramatic scale-up of testing and develop protocols for if cases of Coronavirus emerge in schools to give parents, teachers and pupils the confidence and assurances they need.

“We simply do not know enough about the impact that Coronavirus will have in our classrooms and how children could act as carriers, and I fully support the NEU, the BMA and our teachers in opposing this move. Bradford Council needs to take the decision now to keep schools closed until it’s safe to reopen them.”

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