After nearly a month of all schools across Nottinghamshire and England being closed, the government has announced they could reopen – but not until March 8.
In yesterday’s daily briefing, Boris Johnson said the date is the earliest schools could open to ‘allow time’ to see the impact of the vaccine.
Mr Johnson said: “We must be cautious. We want only to open schools when we can be sure that this will not cause another huge surge in the disease.”
Rob Illingworth, a secondary school teacher and Branch Secretary of Nottinghamshire National Education Union said: “I suspect that that deadline will not be met giving the number of COVID cases and the numbers of children in schools.”
Schools are currently still open for vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers.
He added: “I think everybody who works in schools knew that with thirty children in a classroom with somewhat inadequate ventilation, that case numbers were going to rocket as soon as schools reopened.”
The Prime Minister had been facing pressure to provide clarity on the reopening of schools.
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Labour is calling for all teachers and school staff to be vaccinated during February half term.
Michael McKeever, a former Nottinghamshire headteacher, agrees. He said: “To get them [children] all back has a knock-on effect of getting parents back to work as well, which is important.”
Rob said he would support vaccinating school staff, but added: “Even if teachers are vaccinated, school communities will still transmit the virus.
They won’t transmit it to us. They will transmit it to family, the community, the town.”
He added that the union wants to see further steps taken to ensure schools open safely.
“We suggested rotas last year in March…you could fit mechanical ventilation. In most countries masks are mandatory in the classroom.
“It’s things like that that really need to be securely in pace, because if it’s not, we will be back here again, and tens of thousands more people will lose their lives.”