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Teaching unions call for primary schools to close

A national teaching union is calling on all primary schools to stay closed for the first two weeks of term and teach pupils online instead.

The National Education Union says primary schools should only be open to vulnerable children and children of key workers during this time.

It is writing to employers, urging them to look at the advice of SAGE, the Government’s scientific advisory group, and we are urging its members to tell their headteachers that it is unsafe for them to be in school.

It added: “We are asking members to be available to work from home and to support remote learning.

“This is a step we take with huge reluctance. But this Government is failing to protect children, their families and our communities.

“And it is failing in its duty of care to education staff who have worked tirelessly to look after children during this pandemic.

In December, we called for schools to be closed for two weeks at the start of the spring term in order to provide a circuit breaker and lower infections.

“Our view was ignored but our call has become even more urgent as the new variant of COVID-19 is spreading far more quickly than in March.”

Primary schools will open as normal across Cumbria from Monday.

The Government said there would be a few areas where primary schools will be closed for face-to-face learning due to high levels of infection.

But, Cumbria County Council said the county is not one of them and all primary schools in the county should plan to open as per the normal start date.

All secondary schools and further education colleges have been advised by Government to do the following:

  • Week commencing January 4 – online learning for all, apart from vulnerable and key worker children.

Week to be spent preparing for testing.

Some schools may be ready to begin testing with children returning home after their tests, regardless of the outcome.

  • Week commencing January 11 – as above, but exam years now return for face-to-face learning. Testing continues.
  • Week commencing January 18  – all pupils from all year groups return. Testing continues.