Union calls for schools to be closed if England enters month-long lockdown

Primary school children in class
Support us and go ad-free

Schools and colleges must be closed if the government imposes another national lockdown, the National Education Union (NEU) has said. Joint general secretary Kevin Courtney also called for ministers to prepare to introduce school rotas for the end of any new restrictions.

New measures

Boris Johnson is expected to outline fresh measures to control the spread of coronavirus at a Downing Street press conference on 31 October. He is reportedly considering introducing nationwide restrictions next week, which could see everything closed except essential shops and education settings for a month.

Read on...

But the NEU said it would be “self-defeating” for the government to impose such measures while “ignoring the role of schools as a major contributor to the spread of the virus”.

Missed opportunities

Courtney said not including schools and colleges would likely lead to the need for even longer lockdowns in future. He also said:

The latest figures from the ONS estimate that 1% of primary pupils and 2% of secondary pupils have the virus and that these levels have increased dramatically since wider opening in September.

NEU analysis of ONS figures shows that virus levels are now nine times higher amongst primary pupils and an astonishing 50 times higher amongst secondary pupils.

The National Education Union called for a two-week circuit break over half-term to include schools, which the Wales Government and the Northern Ireland assembly have done – but the Government in Westminster has ignored this call.

More severe measures are now called for as a result, the Government should not make this mistake again.

The Government should include all schools in proposals for an immediate national lockdown and as a minimum be preparing for school rotas at the end of that period, including by actually meeting its promise to deliver broadband and equipment to those children who do not have them.

It is also vital that the Government ensure proper financial support for all those affected by lockdown including crucial supply teachers and other staff.

We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support

The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.

The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.

So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.

Support us