Islington U-turns on school closing advice after government 'discussion'

Council leader Richard Watts. Picture: Catherine Davison

Council leader Richard Watts. Picture: Catherine Davison - Credit: Archant

Islington Council has U-turned on its advice to close schools a few days early.

This week, the authority told schools around the borough to move to online learning by the end of yesterday, except for key worker families and vulnerable children, following a serious rise in coronavirus cases across London.

READ MORE: Islington Council advises schools to move learning online after 'serious' rise in cases

However, "after discussion" with the Department for Education, the council is now asking classrooms to stay open until today.

The schools can arrange tomorrow (December 17) as an extra inset day on top of the inset day already planned for Friday. 

Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council, said: “Coronavirus cases are rising fast in Islington and London, and following public health advice about this very serious situation, we originally advised schools in Islington to move to online learning."

He continued: “We issued this advice to schools because the situation in Islington is so serious.

"As Islington and London continue to face surging rates of coronavirus, it’s absolutely vital we all work together and do everything we can to keep our families and loved ones safe.

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"The more people mix, the more the virus will spread, and the serious illness and death we will all see in our community. I urge residents to do whatever you can to stay safe at this dangerous time.”

This comes as the government warned Greenwich Council, which had also issued advice about moving teaching online, that it must keep schools open or face legal action.

A spokesperson from the Department for Education told the Gazette that children are a national priority during the pandemic, and the government will act in their best interests while also supporting schools to stay open until the end of term.

London became subject to Tier 3 strict restrictions today - this means inter-household mixing is banned indoors and in most outdoor places, with the exception of support bubbles already in place, and hospitality venues must close, except for delivery, takeout and drive-through custom.

Retail and personal care businesses will remain open but indoor entertainment venues will have to shut.