Boris Johnson has said that schools in England could fully reopen from 8 March. But Johnson said this would depend “on lots of things going right”.
He made the comments last week, as virus cases and deaths continued to remain high.
But disgracefully, Labour leader Keir Starmer and shadow education secretary Kate Green called for a more concrete plan.
Labour has repeatedly called for schools to fully reopen as soon as possible.
The party claims it is concerned about the impact of lockdown measures on children.
But the danger is that constant demands for schools to reopen puts pressure on children and workers to return to unsafe environments.
Schools are still seeing virus outbreaks despite only being open to vulnerable children and those with key worker parents.
Public Health England last week reported 22 confirmed outbreaks in primary schools in “week 3”.
There were 37 confirmed outbreaks in nursery schools, which are open as usual, compared to 34 the previous week. Another 37 outbreaks were confirmed in special schools.
The government is considering prioritising school workers for Covid-19 vaccinations, a measure Starmer has also called for.
But vaccinating workers won’t stop the virus from spreading among children and students—or prevent them from bringing it home.
Workers are right to resist any return to unsafe schools.
Some primary school children could return to schools in Wales after the February halfterm.
Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford said last week that the Labour-led Welsh government plans a “phased and flexible” return from 22 February.
Drakeford said that the youngest children could return first as they are the least likely to catch and spread coronavirus. But all the evidence shows that young children are highly effective at spreading the virus.
Primary aged children were the second most infected of all age groups by the end of school term in December.
And the NEU union calculated that primary and secondary school teachers are 1.9 times more likely to contract the virus than the general population.
Drakeford himself admitted last week that “when people get together, coronavirus thrives”.
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