Malvern Hills District Councillor Samantha Charles has written to Cllr Marcus Hart, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Education and Skills at Worcestershire County Council, to seek more clarification on the council’s position on the safe reopening of schools:

“The Government has thus far been unable to provide evidence to support its assertion that schools can safely open further for some primary aged students from 1 June, and for even more primary and secondary students by the end of the summer term. Their policy threatens to add to the disproportionate impact of the current pandemic on working class people, especially those who are poorer, older or from Black, Asian and other ethnic minority communities.

In light of this, Worcestershire County Council should support the joint guidance put forward by the National Education Union, GMB, Unite and Unison, and supported by the British Medical Association, and to resist the Government’s attempt to introduce the wider re-opening of schools until it is demonstrably safe to do so.

The Local Government Association has stressed the importance of predicating any reopening on scientific evidence, and Liverpool City Council, North of Tyne Council and Haringey Council are just a few of the numerous councils around the country which over the past few days have publicly voiced their concerns about the further reopening of schools. This comes after over 1,000 councillors signed the National Education Union Councillors Network open letter to the education secretary calling on schools to reopen when it is safe to do so. I believe that Worcestershire County Council should join in with other councils in doing so.

Properly funded, decent education accessible to all ought to be at the heart of everything we do. Returning to school is vital for young people, especially for those of our students who are less advantaged. It is not, however, acceptable to sacrifice the welfare of young people, educators, their friends and families, and the wider community.

Everyone looks forward to when all schools can be safely reopened. However, until then, the safety of our young people and the wider community should be paramount.”

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