Primary schools encouraged to re-open in Lancashire tomorrow

Primary schools across Lancashire WILL be encouraged to re-open tomorrow, despite concerns over Covid safety.

By Brian Ellis
Sunday, 3rd January 2021, 7:55 pm

That is the message from County Hall this afternoon where a blanket closure of schools has been ruled out - for the time being.

But council chiefs say the final decision will be left to individual headteachers, with the authority promising them support "to help make the right decision for their pupils and staff."

At least three Preston schools have already informed parents they will not be re-opening on Monday - Blessed Sacrament in Ribbleton, Fishwick Primary and Lea Community - citing worries over safety of children and staff and pressure from unions.

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Primary school children should return to school tomorrow say County Hall chiefs.

All three say they will remain closed to all pupils for the time being, apart from the children of key workers or those deemed vulnerable. Classes will switch to remote learning. Others are expected to follow suit as the row over whether a return to school is safe.

Urging primary heads to reopen as normal after the Christmas break, Coun Phillippa Williamson, LCC's cabinet member for children, young people and schools, issued a statement saying: "Since the pandemic began, schools and early years settings across Lancashire have done a remarkable job, continuing to teach young people either remotely or in person in safe, Covid-secure environments.

"Throughout they ensured that the children's needs come first, with special attention being given to those from the most vulnerable families and from families of key workers.

"Clearly the best place for children is in school, not just for their education but for their social, mental and physical wellbeing.

Coun Phillippa Williamson.

"Having looked at the infection rates in Lancashire and following advice from our public health experts, we are not advocating a blanket closure of primary schools across Lancashire at this time.

"The ultimate decision on whether to open remains with each individual school. Each of those schools knows their own circumstances best, and we will support them to help make the right decision for their pupils and staff."

Lancashire's director of public health, Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, added: "Although infection rates are on the rise in Lancashire, we are not in the same situation as London and the South East of England where the new variant has really taken hold.

"That means that we can and should encourage schools to stay open where they can.

Lancashire's Director of Public Health Dr Sakthi Karunanithi

"Clearly this is a fast-moving situation and must be kept under constant review, both locally and by government."

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