Schools Should Not Rush To Reopen Before It Is Safe

May 21, 2020 2:45 PM

Derby Lib Dem Councillors and Campaigners at Derby Moor SchoolBack our campaign - Schools Should Not Rush To Reopen Before It Is Safe

Teachers and parents have been left in an anxious and seriously concerned position since the Government announced that schools should reopen in a phased return from the 1st of June following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government has failed to take in to consideration the serious health risk to all teachers, parents, extended household families and students by the reopening of schools without clear, concise and conclusive scientific evidence that it is safe to do so.

There is a clear and apparent high risk of localised surges of the virus emerging, with schools not being given adequate time to prepare for their reopenings and operate in a risk free and safe environment. There is a considerable risk of failing to maintain social distancing within schools as well as an inherent risk of poor hygiene practices by children due to the level of understanding of mitigating and minimising the spread of the disease. While the population is expected to continue social distancing measures and practices, the suggestion of creating small groups of children for socialising within schools is in clear conflict with that essential need and requirement - especially when social distancing is in place based on strong scientific and medical evidence.

The Government has also failed to recognise that some households are multi-generational. A greater exposure is being placed on families with members in a vulnerable category without proper assessment. Evidence to date also is clearly indicative that BAME communities are at a higher risk and again no appropriate and adequate assessment has been made to evaluate and assess the higher level of risk and impact on those communities that are likely to arise.

Schools have not been given the time, resource, suitable expert knowledge or best practice guidance to create a safe working and teaching environment, or practices and materials that will eliminate or seriously reduce the risk of spread or resurgence of the Covid-19 virus.

The expectation of teachers being expected to teach by maintaining social distancing within schools is in itself an illustration that there is no confidence that the school environment is a safe working and teaching environment. It is also a highly negligent and ethically poor expectation for children to make good their own personal hygiene in the event of personal accidents. In the event of accidents relating to health where immediate action or first aid is required, social distance expectations are also disingenuous and the safety, security and well being of the injured cannot be guaranteed.

Class sizes are to be reduced to be able to maintain the difficult to sustain social distancing measures based on current class sizes - averaging 30 pupils. By reducing this number to 15, it would mean a greater number of teaching staff would be required to accommodate the increased number of classes. This places further strain on already overstretched teaching teams within schools to be able to meet this unreasonable demand where not all staff are qualified teaching staff.

Expectations relating to staggered arrival times and departure times of students and parents is also unlikely to be achievable - especially in the instances where a number of children from the same household attend different institutions or parents are unable to meet expected slots while being able to reach a place of work - creating further unneccessary pressures.

The suggestion of having allocated toilet breaks is also very unhealthy in that it will inevitably lead to increased risks of personal accidents and can cause considerable and unnecessary anxiety and have possible undesirable health impacts by retaining fluids or bodily material for more sustained periods.

The general well-being of children and possible mental health impacts of restricted activities within the school environment is also of grave concern. Curtailing their socialising and movements within schools with restrictive measures that require them to eat, study and possibly take refreshment and lunch breaks at the same table and chair. The learning environment itself will be highly disadvantageous and can only be compared to a place of incarceration.

The opening of other venues and places of business and leisure has been delayed until July and August as the government feels it is necessary to keep the spread of the Covid-19 virus in a suppressed state. The risk of the spread of the disease in an educational environment is considerably higher - clearly evidenced by the regular spread of the common cold and flu types of illnesses which are regularly exacerbated on accelerated spreads through schools.

It is abundantly clear that it is impossible to re-open schools and that to do so is dangerous and a serious risk to public health. Based on continual failings of the Government in dealing with this outbreak in a timely manner and the continual failings in not following medical and scientific advice from its own advisors. We therefore call upon the government, Derby City Council, Academy Trusts and school leadership to delay the re-opening of schools until such a time where all of the aforementioned risks have been absolutely minimised and all students and teaching staff can learn and teach in a low risk and safe environment.

Back our campaign - Schools Should Not Rush To Reopen Before It Is Safe