Islington primary schools to reopen despite rising Covid cases

Council leader, Cllr Richard Watts. Picture: Islington Council/ Em Fitzgerald Photography

Council leader, Cllr Richard Watts. Picture: Islington Council/ Em Fitzgerald Photography - Credit: Em Fitzgerald Photography

Islington Council's leader has called for answers about why the borough's primary schools have been told to open on Monday, while the reopening has been delayed in other parts of London due to the spread of Covid.

Around a million primary school pupils in some of the areas will not return to lessons as planned next week, while the expected staggered reopening of secondary schools in England will also be delayed.

Islington leader Cllr Richard Watts said: "We are now seeking urgent clarification from the Government about why Islington’s primary schools are to reopen in the week of January 4, while those in many other London boroughs will not reopen." 

Secondary school pupils in exam years are due to return on January 11, while other years will return on January 18. Vulnerable students or the children of key workers will return from Monday, January 4.

Cllr Watts said: “Coronavirus continues to spread fast in Islington and across London, and the more the virus spreads in our communities, the more serious illness and death we will see. Islington has a deeply concerning rise in coronavirus cases, especially in infections in the over-60s, which have recently more than doubled.

“It’s right that secondary schools will reopen later in January to help tackle this deadly disease. We will continue to do everything we can to support Islington’s incredible head teachers, teachers, teaching assistants and support staff at this very challenging time."

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 He added: “It is deeply frustrating that the government has made this announcement at the last minute, just days before the start of term, weeks after it was clear coronavirus cases were surging in London.  It also comes just two weeks after the government threatened schools with legal action after some councils, including Islington, advised schools to delay reopening after January, following public health advice over surging coronavirus cases.

“It’s vital that everything is done to urgently tackle the surging coronavirus cases, to keep everyone in our community safe at this dangerous time.”

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said on Wednesday: "We must always act swiftly when circumstances change. The evidence about the new Covid variant and rising infection rates have required some immediate adjustment to our plans for the new term.

“The latest study we have from Public Health England is that Covid infections among children are triggered by changes in the community rate. The study also says that the wider impact of school closures on children’s development would be significant.

“I’m quite clear that we must continue to do all we can to keep children in school.”

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