Socialist Worker

Chaotic and unsafe school reopening plan could burst the Tories’ bubble

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2709

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A poster rejecting unsafe schools reopening in south London (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Secondary schools across England began opening to wider numbers of children on Monday of this week.

It follows a series of warnings about how the further reopening of schools could spread coronavirus.

Some ten schools across Lincolnshire reported confirmed or suspected virus cases just eight days after wider reopening of primaries began on 1 June.

One school was forced to close and others had to send children home. 

In at least two schools, a worker was sent home after testing positive.

One teacher said, “I don’t think we’ve had enough guidance from the government on how to reopen safely. 

“I think this is the start in a rise of infections.

“It could lead to a second wave.”

A child at Kings Oak Primary Learning Centre in Wombwell, South Yorkshire, tested positive for coronavirus last week. 

The “bubble” that the child was in immediately closed. Other children in the bubble were asked to self-isolate for two weeks.

Widespread fears among parents and workers has scuppered the Tories’ school plans. They wanted children in reception, year one and year six to return from 1 June. And they wanted children in all primary years back before the summer.

Limited

Yet many schools have only had a limited reopening. 

Lots of parents have kept children home. And the Tories last week admitted that all primary years would not return before the summer.

Virus cases were rising in schools even before they began reopening to wider numbers. Public Health England (PHE) data for the last week of May reported “an increase in school outbreaks, with 15 acute respiratory infection outbreaks in schools reported”.

The Tories want more children in schools so they can push more parents back to work. 

It’s right to demand that children are not forced back to school—or parents to workplaces—until it is safe.

The NEU union said its five tests had to be met, including a proper track and trace system, before it would be safe to reopen schools.

Its new ten-point plan includes demands for free school meals to be provided over the summer and “blended” learning from September. This would give children a combination of school and home learning.

We should of course demand much more support for children and parents. 

But we shouldn’t let real fears about the impact of the lockdown on children be used to push people back to unsafe schools


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