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Covid-19: Keep schools shut, council leaders urge
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Covid-19: Keep schools shut, council leaders urge

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More councils in England are calling on the government to delay the reopening of primary schools amid rising cases of
Covid-19.

 

Local authorities in Wolverhampton, Cumbria and Kent are now asking for a delay to the start of term on Monday.

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the BBC parents should send their children to schools where they were open.

 

Some schools announced on Sunday they would remain closed after teachers said they felt it was unsafe to go in.

 

Mr Johnson told BBC One's Andrew Marr the risk to children was "very, very low" and the benefit of education was
"so huge".

 

He added that while school closures would be kept "under constant review", the government would be "driven by public
health considerations and by the massive importance of education".

 

Teaching unions have called for remote learning and some head teachers have begun legal action to force ministers to
reveal data behind the decision for most schools to reopen.

 

 

'Serious concerns'

All schools in London and parts of Essex, Kent, East Sussex, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire have been asked to
stay closed until 18 January due to high rates of infection.

 

But Kent County Council leader Roger Gough has now written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, urging him to
keep primaries in four districts closed in line with the rest of the county.

 

"Rates remain very high and in many cases were under strong upward pressure very recently. Kent as a whole now
has a fairly even spread of high levels of infection," he said, urging that schools in Thanet, Canterbury, Dover and
Folkestone and Hythe stay closed.

 

Ian Brookfield, leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, said he had "serious concerns" about schools opening safely.

 

"Unfortunately, the infection rate in Wolverhampton now stands at 530 people per 100,000 - the highest in the region.
We are also seeing a very high positive test rate of 23% - similar to many areas of London and the South East," he said.

 

 

'Teachers are key workers'

Southampton City Council leader Christopher Hammond said he had advised primaries to prioritise in-school learning
for vulnerable children and the children of key workers if they did not have enough staff to operate fully.

 

James McInnes, cabinet member for children's services and schools at Devon County Council, said teachers and staff
should be prioritised for vaccinations against Covid-19.

 

"Teachers are key workers and I really think they should be right at the front of the queue in terms of getting
a vaccination because they're keeping children in school," he said.

 

 

Forty members of staff at All Saints Church of England Primary School in Bradford contracted coronavirus last term,
head teacher John Davie said. He also thinks vaccines are paramount.



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