EDUCATION union chiefs across Worcestershire have branded the government’s decision to re-open schools as unsafe and described plans to push ahead with the wider reopening programme as reckless.
The call comes one week after Redditch County Councillor Robin Lunn, the Leader of the Labour group at County Hall, voiced similar concerns in the Redditch Standard.
Speaking ahead of the proposed phased re-opening of schools from Monday, June 1, the National Education Union (NEU) said opening schools to more than just the children of key workers and vulnerable children risked a second spike in coronavirus cases.
They said they too are desperate to see schools reopen as soon as it is safe but added parents would agree provision at schools should not be expanded in exchange for increasing the risk to children, staff and communities of a greater exposure to coronavirus.
“The risk the coronavirus infection from the community finds its way into schools is still too high,” said Stephen Metters, district secretary of the Worcestershire NEU.
“When Denmark reopened schools a month ago it had 95 deaths per one million of the population. The UK has 513 deaths per one million of the population.
“If one compares the UK with other countries we are closer to Spain and Italy in terms of the number of deaths, the number of cases and the rates of infection. Those countries are not reopening their schools more widely until September.”
Sean McCauley, joint secretary of the State Education Branch of Worcestershire NEU added: “The government has not met two of its own tests.
“The rate of infection has not yet decreased to manageable levels and the level of testing needed to support a wider reopening is not in place.
“ Forcing those who are living with vulnerable people into a workplace where there is an increased risk of infection is unacceptable. Failure to put in place an established test and trace system is criminal.
“Many schools have ditched plans to open fully to the identified year groups; some are reopening only for Year 6, some on June 8, some on June 15.
“Those ploughing ahead for next week should avoid a chaotic reopening and put it on hold until the science says it is safe to reopen more widely,” he added.