‘Could do better’, Oldham Liberal Democrat Leader’s verdict on so called full school opening plans

With one week to go, Conservative Government plans to reopen schools fail to pass muster, says Liberal Democrat Leader, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE.

“Whilst we all want to see all our children back at their desks, a return to school must be safe for our children, our teachers and our other school staff,” said Councillor Sykes. “Parents will rightly want to have the assurance that the government is not simply rushing into things just to satisfy a deadline on the Prime Minister’s ‘roadmap’ and that our children’s health will in no way be compromised by a March 8 return to the classroom.”

Howard Sykes, looking out across Shaw

The Oldham Liberal Democrats believe that the government has a whole series of questions to answer before it can pass the test:

  • How can we be sure that school transport will be safe to use?
  • Will regional or local approaches will be considered that take account of local infection and vaccination rates?
  • If an immediate full return for all pupils to school is not possible what phased approach will be taken across year groups, and will rotas be considered in the short-term to ensure that all pupils spend some time in the classroom?
  • How will the testing for COVID-19 infection be carried out on a regular basis amongst pupils, where and when will it happen, and what impact will this have on the delivery of teaching?
  • How will parents who are reluctant to send their children back to school, or children be reluctant to attend, be supported to make the right choice?
  • What additional support will pupils with mental illness, disabilities or Special Educational Needs receive so they can benefit fully from a return to education?

Councillor Sykes said: “These, and many other questions, remain unanswered. Although I am absolutely confident that teachers and other school staff will do their utmost to make this work, I have absolutely no confidence in the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, who failed our young people so abysmally with his discredited algorithms in the recent examinations fiasco.”

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