Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was under renewed pressure last night after critical guidelines for closing schools were issued just before midnight on Friday night.
The unions reacted with anger at the "reprehensible" timing of the advice that secondary school students in restricted areas could be kept at home on a rota every two weeks.
To add to the confusion, the Department of Education changed the guidelines shortly after it was published to remove a passage that said an entire year group could be asked to isolate for 14 days if a single case is confirmed at school.
A teachers' union, the NAHT, said giving the advice at 11pm on a Friday night before a holiday "was nothing short of reprehensible and shows a total lack of consideration for the well-being of school principals and their teams."
The unions reacted with anger at the "reprehensible" timing of the advice that secondary school students in restricted areas could be kept at home on a rota every two weeks
And Mary Bousted, general secretary of the National Education Union, said the 23,000 word revocation guide document should be ready "months ago."
A Whitehall blame game broke out over the mayhem last night, with some sources pointing a finger at Health Secretary Matt Hancock for the bizarre timing.
A source said, "Obviously it wasn't our plan to get it public, but Health was involved and it took a long time to be clear."
The dispute today overshadowed Mr. Williamson's attempt to stabilize the government's handling of the matter by writing an open letter to his parents.
Regarding the new term 'nerves', Mr Williamson – whose cabinet position is already at A-Level after the chaos – said:' I urge you to remember that all four of our country’s chief medical officers, including Chris Whitty agree that the health risk of Covid-19 for children is extremely low and add: “I want to assure you that great efforts have been made to prepare all of our schools for this moment.
“When a child is out of school, they lose far more than just a few months of study. It could seriously affect their future life chances.
"Education is a birthright, so we make sure we all get children back – back to learning, back to play and back to being kids again."
The Lockdown Council stated that the Rota system, where each student spends a fortnight in school and then learns remotely for two weeks to break the chain of Covid-19 transmission, would not come into effect until “everyone other measures are exhausted ”- but if the cases continued to grow, all students may need to switch to distance learning except those in vulnerable groups or whose parents were key workers.
Mr Williamson said the document was a "worst case scenario" contingency plan.
If there is a local lockdown, the guidelines say there would be four levels of response depending on the virus case in the area: level 1 infection levels would mean all students go to school normally; Tier 2 would mean secondary schools and colleges move to Rotas, with students alternating fortnightly and fortnightly at home and elementary schools remaining open to everyone. At Level 3, most secondary school students would study from home. In Tier 4, all schools in the region would switch to distance learning, with the exception of vulnerable children and children of key workers.
The guidelines came out after a leaked scientific paper produced for the government indicated that a second wave of coronavirus could kill up to 85,000 people in the UK this winter
When a school confirms a case of coronavirus, the school's health teams tell the school how many students need to be sent home to isolate themselves for 14 days.
Boris Johnson has insisted that failing to reopen schools is "not an option". The prime minister said he will force shops and restaurants to close in front of schools, which would only close as a last resort.
The guidelines came out after a leaked scientific paper prepared for the government indicated that a second wave of coronavirus could kill up to 85,000 people in the UK this winter.
The report by the Prime Minister's Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage) states that some lockdown restrictions may need to be reintroduced and maintained through March 2021.
When a school confirms a case of coronavirus, the school's health teams tell the school how many students need to be sent home to isolate themselves for 14 days
Research shows that children are at very low risk of getting seriously ill from the virus, and there is no evidence that they no longer transmit the disease as adults.
Paul Whiteman, chairman of the National Association of Head Teachers, said, "You don't need a crystal ball to see that some areas are almost inevitable to malfunction in the coming weeks."
He said the minds had been asking about this "Plan B" for weeks about what would happen in the event of an outbreak – and "another late night release is pretty typical of what we've gotten used to".
His comments were endorsed by Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was under renewed pressure last night after critical guidelines for closing schools were issued just before midnight on Friday night
When asked how the teachers would react, he told the BBC, “I think the most polite answer is probably a tired, resigned feeling of the inevitability that we will be back.
Something arrived at the last minute that we were accused of expressing treason when we asked – where is the plan B in the event of a local lockdown? "
Professor Carl Heneghan, an epidemiologist from Oxford University, said that cold and flu cases mean more students would have to self-isolate before being tested. "If your child has symptoms, they don't have to go to school."
"In the past there has been a tendency to say, 'You can have Calpol, maybe you can go in. "Parents' behavior has to change fundamentally," he said.
Labor education spokeswoman Kate Green said it was "unfair" to school principals to publish the guidelines so close to the start of the semester.
- In an opinion poll last night, the Conservatives and the Labor Party each got 40 percent – the first time since July 2019 that the Tories were no longer ahead. The Opinium poll found 47 percent of people disapproved of the government's handling of the Covid-19 crisis compared to 31 percent who agree.
- The survey also found that 63 percent of parents with school-age children think reopening elementary schools is safe, and 60 percent say the same about secondary schools.
At a glance: what parents need to know
Schools welcome children back to the classroom in England and Wales all day this week – but what exactly do parents need to know?
Here, The Mail am Sonntag describes the government's latest guidance …
- The schools stagger lunch, break and start times and intensify cleaning, with strict hygiene and cleaning protocols in place.
- Almost all of them have formed "bubble" groups of students, put up signs to guide students and parents through the school, and installed additional hand washing and disinfection stations.
- A small number of home test kits are distributed to all schools for anyone who develops symptoms and cannot be tested easily.
- In the case of local lockdown restrictions, students and secondary school staff wear face masks in common areas where it is not easy for them to socialize. Face covering is not worn in classrooms.
- Elementary school children do not need to wear face covering.
- If a student or staff member suspects, classes will continue normally while the person concerned is self-isolated and tested.
- If a case is confirmed, the school's health teams will tell the school how many students need to be sent home to isolate themselves for 14 days and study online. This depends on the degree of contact between the infected person and the students in their "bladder".
- In a smaller "bubble" like a single class, all students may need to be sent home to isolate themselves.
- For a larger bladder, like an entire grade group, there is an option to send all other students home, but it could only be those who were in close proximity to a student with the virus.
- When there are significant numbers of infections, a school can put in place a Rota system as a last resort. This would mean students spend two weeks in the classroom and then study two remotely.
- Schools should base their plans on a four tier system to respond to changing case levels. The default setting is Tier 1, with all students participating full-time.
- If health and education officials find the infection level is too high, schools could move to Level 2, where secondary school students switch to part-time rota. At Level 3, most secondary school students would study from home. Tier 4 would see everything at home except for the children of key workers and vulnerable youth.
Get on your bikes! GRANT SHAPPS urges parents to walk or bike their children to school when they return early in the fall semester
For many children, school is not only a place of learning, but also a center of stability. It provides support for those faced with testing conditions at home
The Shapps household is like millions of others preparing for the fall school semester to begin. New clothes, new books, and a new year – a lot of activity. This is a crucial moment in youth education.
Children paid a heavy price for the coronavirus pandemic, with no classes and being separated from their friends for months.
We rightly think of those who have been robbed of life or harmed by this invisible enemy.
But when we return to something resembling normal life from the initial emergency, we need to put our children first. And that means getting them back to school.
The Prime Minister spoke of the need to restore education as a moral duty for all children. It is.
Lack of education is a bigger threat to teenagers than this terrible disease.
For many children, school is not only a place of learning, but also a center of stability. It provides support for those faced with testing conditions at home.
In particular, they have had to grapple with physical and psychological isolations that they have starved from teaching and care aimed at improving their future prospects. We cannot allow this to continue.
This means getting them back to school in a safe environment that combines the needs of education with the overriding priority of preventing the Covid epidemic from recurring.
For many children, school is not only a place of learning, but also a center of stability. She provides support for those who are faced with test conditions at home (file photo)
Teachers worked over the summer to prepare schools for the autumn influx. Not everything will look the same as schools adopt new measures such as: B. additional hand washing, staggered breaks and lunch breaks.
However, on the way back to normal, this is a crucial milestone that we must reach.
We in government have a responsibility to facilitate this return and to allay fears through practical and proportionate measures.
For me as Minister of Transport, this means doing everything I can to ensure that getting to and from school is as safe and efficient as possible.
For the past few months, along with my team from the Department of Transportation, local authorities across the country, and transportation companies, I've focused on doing just that.
First, we've made some major investments. This includes more than £ 218 million to keep the councils going in the coming weeks, as well as £ 40 million for special services to bring children to school from home.
For me as Minister of Transport, this means doing everything possible to ensure that getting to and from the school is as safe and efficient as possible (file photo)
We are also giving councils £ 225 million to swiftly introduce measures such as separate cycle paths and wider walkways.
These should give the students and their parents more confidence whether they want to run on the school run or ride a bike.
Second, we focused on getting the transport network back in shape.
This meant surfacing again during the 319 miles of road blockage and using data collected by delivery companies to identify and repair potholes.
Beginning September 7th, we're increasing peak train traffic to 91 percent of pre-closure capacity, while ensuring that the services that students regularly use are up and running before that date.
We have coordinated the preparations for this increase in the use of public transport with the councils and the bus and train operators.
Local authorities will be largely responsible for overseeing school returns in their areas and we have been in constant communication with them to understand where problems may arise.
I have also set up a separate department in my department to closely monitor the national transport network in the first few weeks of September.
This should enable us to fix new problems early on.
But while we are doing our best to make the great return to school a success, we also need your support.
So I ask everyone for help. If possible, please try to get your children to walk or cycle to school.
Not only is it the greenest and healthiest way to get around, but it also frees public transport for those who need it most. We'll make it as safe as possible for you.
Also, be even more considerate when driving on roads near schools. There could be a lot more children walking and cycling around them. And please avoid transports aimed at school children. If you can postpone your commute to avoid school rush hour it would be of great help.
Employers can also help make this possible for their employees. Everyone over the age of 11, unless they have a reasonable exception, should wear face covering for public transport.
And we all need to remember to wash our hands before and after each trip and, if possible, have hand sanitizer with us.
This will help keep the network safe for everyone. I know it has been said before, but it really helps.
If you are a student going back to school, I wish you all the best for the new semester and year to come.
Do your best to help your teachers and transportation staff while Covid lingers in our midst. In difficult times, courtesy and consideration are wonderful tools.
And if you are a parent, rest assured that we will pull out all the stops to make sure your trip goes smoothly.
After those last six months, our children deserve better and happier times. The ones to look back on with loving care, as school days should be.
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