Parents, carers, pupils and education staff are all concerned today about the safety of schools and education settings given government’s insistence on them opening despite huge concerns.
Cllr Kate Groucutt, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Business, says:
“Throughout the pandemic, school, college and early years staff have shown tremendous dedication and determination in making education settings as safe as possible. With several primary schools unable to fully open this week as planned, it is clear that the current situation is untenable and unfair to pupils, parents and carers.
The decision for a school to close can only be made by the Government nationally or in unavoidable circumstances by Headteachers and governors. The council has no power to force schools to open or close, but we will continue to offer our full support to all schools in any way we can.
As well as continuing our work of supporting schools with risk assessments and day-to-day site management, we are currently working with schools to roll out staff and pupil testing, initially within secondary school settings. All school staff were also given exclusive access to our drop-in testing sites yesterday.
What is most important is that all pupils have access to online learning, and that vulnerable pupils and the children of critical workers are able to attend school. Everyone working within the education system in St Helens is united in trying to minimise the mental health, wellbeing and educational impact on our children and young people.
We call on the government to prioritise vaccinations for school staff alongside other frontline workers so that staff, pupils and students can get back in the classroom with confidence.”
Cllr David Baines, Leader of St Helens Borough Council says:
“Not for the first time during the pandemic, the government has completely lost control of the situation. They urgently need to get a grip and provide clarity to pupils, parents and carers, and they need to work with teachers and school staff to ensure that schools are safe for all – including a plan for vaccinations.
With infection rates rising in St Helens and across the country I fully support Keir Starmer in calling for a national lockdown. Whilst this would be difficult for everyone, it is the best way to get control of the virus and protect our NHS. Boris Johnson is always behind the curve – for once, for all our sakes, he needs to get his act together.”