Former Carlisle City Council leader Colin Glover has joined the call for the Government to delay the reopening of schools in Cumbria.
Mr Glover, who is now leader of the Labour group on the city council, said: “It is clear that COVID infection rates in Carlisle and across Cumbria continue to increase at a significant pace and more needs to be done urgently to protect communities and reduce pressure on NHS hospitals and services.
“The hospitals trust for North Cumbria has now moved to Opel 4, the highest level of alert and faces severe risk.
I fully support the request to Government by Cumbria’s director of public health, to delay reopening of schools.
“No one wants to see schools closed unnecessarily, but safety must come first.
“While children are less likely to become more seriously ill as a result of the virus, it is clear that the risks of transmission and taking the infection home to more vulnerable family members, is significant.
“I was extremely disappointed that the request from Cumbria County Council to delay reopening of schools, was declined by Government.
“While recognising that Government intend to keep the situation under review, the Prime Minister has already stated that further measures will be necessary to try to control the virus, any delay in taking steps to protect people and services is dangerous and increases risk and makes it even more challenging for NHS emergency services to cope.
“Experience indicates that the new strain of the virus is easier to catch, spreads more quickly and the transmission rate has increased in the school environment putting pupils, families and school staff at greater risk.
“School leadership teams, teachers and local authorities are committed to providing the best possible education for children and students, but it must be done in a safe environment.
“They deserve our full support and respect in these challenging times to enable them to make the decisions that are right for children and communities.
“They have my full support for taking any necessary actions to protect people in Cumbria.
“I urge the Government to listen to the expert advice of public health officials in Cumbria and to take urgent steps to slow the transmission growth rate, reduce risk of infection, support schools and alleviate pressure on health services.
“Additionally, I urge the government to fast track investment to provide laptops and connectivity for children who may not have access to these facilities, supporting their continued education and helping dedicated teachers to deliver skills for the future.”