All elementary schools in London will now close at the start of the new semester after the government has turned its decision to keep some open despite increasing cases of Covid on its head.
The government bowed to protests, legal pressure, and scientific advice on New Year's Day after initially banning a number of districts from the forced closings.
Gavin Williamson had published a list of elementary schools in coronavirus hotspots that would be closed for two weeks after the start of the semester next week.
All elementary schools in London will now close at the start of the new semester after the government has turned its decision to keep some open despite increasing cases of Covid on its head
The government bowed to protests, legal pressure, and scientific advice on New Year's Day after initially banning a number of districts from the forced closings
Many of the London boroughs that have been told to keep elementary schools open are seeing increases in Covid cases
However, the list didn't include areas where Covid rates are high, such as Haringey, whose leaders said they would oppose the government and support schools that decided to close.
The government's original plan was to reopen schools in the City of London and Kingston, but those in 22 other London boroughs would have remained closed.
The Heads of State or Government of Camden, Islington, Greenwich, Haringey, Harrow, Hackney and Lewisham and the City of London said in a letter to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson: “We urge that your recommendation be urgently reviewed and our primary schools are added to the list of those who are advised to postpone learning online. & # 39;
The action prompted a cabinet emergency meeting today that decided to abandon the original plans and order the remaining area to close their elementary schools, The Guardian reported.
The London Mayor of Labor, Sadiq Khan, and party colleagues who ran the city councils had urged all schools in London to be closed
Sadiq Khan responded to the message, saying, "This is the right decision – and I would like to thank Secretary of Education Nick Gibb for our constructive discussions over the past two days."
Mr. Khan previously described it as "nonsensical" that some elementary school students were told to return next week and wrote to the Prime Minister about his anger that local leaders had not been consulted.
Mr. Williamson said: “Child education and wellbeing remain a national priority. Moving more parts of London to distance learning is really a last resort and a temporary solution.
& # 39; As infection rates rise across the country and London in particular, we must take this step to protect our country and the NHS. We will keep checking the list of local authorities and reopening the classrooms as soon as possible. & # 39;
The previous decision baffled many as the schools had to stay open just a few meters from other schools.
Two schools in Islington, north London, had received different advice on whether to open or close them within 700 meters.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said, “Right at the moment we need critical leadership, the government is on six and seven.
Gavin Williamson had published a list of elementary schools in coronavirus hotspots that would remain closed
"The government cannot expect to gain public trust with such a confusing and short-term approach."
Scientific advisors had warned that more school closings were needed to control rising infections.
The government's Sage Committee said it was "highly unlikely" that the pandemic could be dealt with effectively if schools could open freely next week.
Dr. Mary Bousted, Joint Secretary General of the National Education Union, said: “It is to be welcomed that the Ministers, albeit in their usual last-minute fashion, have corrected an apparently nonsensical position – one that they could not justify by evidence or reason .
“But the question must be asked: why are the education ministers so inadequate and incompetent? Who will advise you?
“And what is right for London is right for the rest of the country. With the highest rate of Covid-19 infection and hospitals suffering from the tsunami of very sick patients, it is time for ministers to do their duty – to protect the NHS by following advice from Sage and by taking all basic and close secondary schools to bring the R rate below 1.
"The time has come for the government to protect its citizens, and especially its children, by closing all elementary schools for two weeks in order to properly assess the situation, make schools much safer, and protect children and their families."
A businessman, whose daughter is attending elementary school in a Covid hotspot, had the & # 39; absurd & # 39; Decision to keep it open before the final U-turn was blown.
Stephen Cook was stunned by the decision when his London council told school principals to defy ministers and stay closed for the coming weeks.
Cook, 55, who runs a construction company, told MailOnline: “It's all very confusing and completely absurd. But then you could say that we live in very confusing and absurd times.
“None of this makes sense because there are children who come to my daughter's school from Barnet, London, and she has friends from there too. Haringey's infection rate is higher than Barnet's. Why don't all schools in the region close?
Mr Cook lives with his family on Coppetts Road, a busy street that separates Haringey, London on one side and Barnet on the other.
He said, “Children who live in the Barnet neighborhood visit Coldfall and Haringey children go to Coppetts Wood. And when they're out in local parks, they're always mixing and playing.
Stephen Cook and daughter Holly were stunned by the initial decision when his London council ordered school principals to defy ministers and remain closed for the coming weeks
“We are in an incredibly difficult situation and I'm glad I'm not responsible, but we need more clarity because a lot of people don't understand what is going on.
"I live in a Covid hotspot, but when I cross the street I'm in the Barnet district of London. Then why isn't there more consistency?"
According to the latest government figures, Haringey registered 2,120 cases of coronavirus with infections of 789.14 per 100,000 in the week leading up to December 25.
Over the same period, Barnet registered 2,751 with infections at 694.13 per 100,000.
Haringey City Councilor Joseph Ejiofor wrote to the school principals explaining that the Covid case rate in the area is above the London average and that officials were not consulted prior to the decision.
The previous decision baffled many as the schools had to stay open just a few meters from other schools
He wrote: “We are part of the same integrated care system as two counties that are supposed to keep the primaries closed (Barnet and Enfield) and North Middlesex, a hospital under considerable pressure, serves the people of Haringey and Enfield.
"We believe that all elementary schools in Haringey should only be open to children of key workers and vulnerable children next week, and we will support all of our schools in this approach."
Jenny Batt, Lib Dem councilor for Worcester Park in Sutton, southwest London, said local people were "confused and concerned" about what was going on and did not understand how officials were making their decisions.
Medics are picking up a patient from an ambulance at Royal London Hospital this morning, January 1st
"You don't understand the criteria," she told BBC London. “I have residents in Sutton who have kids in Kingston and are told it's safe.
"And then you have your neighbors' children who can't go to school because theirs aren't safe."
Secondary schools also have to wait eagerly to see if they can fully reopen on the new target date, January 18th.
The Department of Education is keen to put a mass testing system in place, but is warning that the curbs may need to be wider than they are in primaries, as older children are more likely to spread the disease. The situation is not expected to become clear until the next January 13 review date.
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