Ian Mearns MP
As Chair of a local primary school in Gateshead, I’m acutely aware of the benefits of good quality education for all of our young people and the widespread impact the spread of Covid-19 has had on their learning and development. Despite this, it is imperative that schools are safe places to learn and free from risk and harm.
I’m delighted to support BRTUS: Parents United in their campaign to ensure all of our schools are safe and are not providing a setting for Covid-19 to spread through our communities. With the right Government support there is no reason why our expert teachers can not continue to educate our young people through a blend of online and face to face teaching to protect their futures while ensuring we regain control of the spread of Covid-19.
Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP
Thank you for taking the time to write to me regarding the Boycott Return to Unsafe Schools campaign.
I understand the concerns that many parents have regarding sending their children to school, particularly at a time when the R is increasing. Many parents are making the decision to continue home learning and not send their children to school, particularly in cases where the child or someone in the child’s home is considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable. I believe this is entirely justified and no parent should face penalties.
At present, the Government have not given us an adequate Test, Track and Trace system and if the Government is adamant that schools must keep running even though new restrictions are being introduced, the safety of school staff and pupils should be a priority to ensure schools can keep functioning during these unprecedented times. I have tabled a written Parliamentary question to the Education Secretary asking that he considers removing the threat of a fine for parents who choose not to send their child back to school during the ongoing pandemic, particularly in incidences where the child, or a member of the household, is clinically extremely vulnerable. Please see a response from Nick Gibb MP on the matter https://questionsstatements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2020-10-14/103628 .
I support the fight for a sensible, safe and sustainable return to school for all and I am pleased to add my support to unions and MPs to stand together with parents, student, school staff and the community.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this important issue. If you would like to learn more about the work I do in Parliament, please feel free to visit www.bellribeiroaddy.com.
Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP
Labour Member of Parliament for Streatham
Grahame Morris MP
I stand in solidarity with Parents United, a grassroots initiative led by parents and carers to ensure the safety of everyone attending and working in schools during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Given that schools are to remain open even under the strictest tier of the Government’s newly-announced three-tier alert system, it is more vital than ever that parents, carers, teachers, staff and pupils feel confident about the safety of schools.
We are beginning to see the imposition of fines on parents and carers who are making the difficult decision to keep children off school for the safety of themselves or those in their care. Not only is the threat of fines placing stress and pressure on parents – many of whom have suffered financially as a result of the pandemic – but also on headteachers and GPs, who are being called upon to prove the legitimacy of these absences.
Instead of penalising those who are making tough decisions with the best interests of their children in mind, the Government must focus on making schools safe and accessible environments for everyone. Parents United are doing fantastic work in highlighting the impact of the pandemic on parents of children with SEND.
I am keen that the education of our children is not further disrupted, but the Government must work to ensure a sensible, safe and sustainable school environment for all.”
Statement from Rachael Maskell MP, York Central
At the end of the summer term the Government have set the ultimate test for schools to grapple with. In September they must return, without the additional resources – staff, money or space, while all children are to be in class.
In the midst of this pandemic it is essential that the school arrangements are safe, that parents can have confidence that they are not exposing their children to risk, and children do not become the silent spreaders of the virus. Grandparents often play an important role in supporting young people at either end of the school day and most definitely do not want to be apart from them for long periods of time again.
Some children find school a difficult environment, for others the imposition of having to attend school increases their stress, while other children have significant underlying health conditions that need to be fully understood. It has been reported that for some, the distance learning model has been a real asset and they have been able to apply themselves well while others have found engagement extremely difficult and school is the best environment for them to be in.
We need to see the school year focused on each individual child. Instituting a school environment which can regulate the children and address their wellbeing, and in some cases trauma, is essential if a conducive learning environment is to be developed. Schools must not return to the use of exclusions or harmful isolation pods, but instead work with children and understand their needs and challenges. The next year should focus on a full recovery curriculum which enables children to return to learning in a safe and supported way, that recognises the lost six months of education and does not introduce additional stresses on the children through purely exams and tests, instead there must be a more holistic approach to assessment and development of children.
Should parents not have confidence that the school environments being proposed will be either safe or act in the best interest of their child, alternative provision must be made available. Parents mustn’t be fined for wanting to do the right thing for their child, but instead the local authority and schools should work with parents to ensure that the interests of the child are supported and provided for.
West Suffolk Constituency Labour Party Executive
West Suffolk CLP Executive supports the sentiments and messages of #BoycottUnsafeSchools campaign, a grass-roots, parent-led initiative campaigning for schools to reopen in a safe and timely manner.
We stand in solidarity with all parents, education workers, children of key workers and vulnerable children, and their efforts to resist the chaotic Government policy which has pushed for a hasty return to schools.
We agree that plans to return to school lack the appropriate detail and resources to ensure that they are both workable and safe. The delay of an effective Test, Track and Trace system is of particular concern as it exacerbates the risk of a second wave of infection which may yet result from the mass reopening of schools.
While we all agree that achieving a full reopening of schools will help to protect children’s academic progress, their well-being and the strength of the economy, we believe risking a second wave will only prolong the detrimental impact of Covid-19. We call for the government to make a greater effort to address digital poverty, to mitigate the impact of school closures, and the development of meaningful programs to address inequality of education provision. It is clear lock down will have long term impacts on all affected so government should have a long term plan to address the harms caused.
The #BoycottUnsafeSchools campaign argues that the protection of lives must be considered paramount whilst plans to protect these other important aspects are carefully implemented, and that these plans should be developed at a national level in consultation with teaching unions, in order to ensure practicality, consistency, and appropriate resourcing to ensure that the design is implemented in all schools throughout the country.
That the campaign has garnered such a strength of support from parents, and that it continues to grow – including the development of local groups – demonstrates that parents have ongoing concerns regarding the Government’s ability to ensure that schools are reopened at the right time, and with robust safety measures in place.
We are pleased to see the campaign support its followers in expressing those concerns to school leaders and local authority figures, in order to get the information they need to make an informed choice regarding their children’s return to school. In this regard, an informed choice should be facilitated by openly available risk assessments for each school and a meaningful system to challenge the suitability of measures taken.
The campaign recognizes, and is vocal about, the wider implications of schools reopening before it is safe. Rushing a return to school will give some employers the green light to force workers back to ill-prepared, unsafe, workplaces. For this reason, and all the others stated above, we are pleased to stand in support of the #BoycottUnsafeSchools campaign.
The Executive Committee, West Suffolk Constituency Labour Party
Ian Hodson National President BFAWU
In recent months we have seen Tory ministers take to their door steps to clap key workers. Key workers included those on the frontline who ranged from NHS and care workers to food transport, refuse and many others that kept our country going. It also although you wouldn’t think so going off the media and some politicians included teachers who enabled many of those who needed to be on the frontline the ability to attend work, as they needed to be able to send their children to school. I’m aware that many teachers have given up holidays during this crisis to support the country. Teaching unions have come in for a lot of criticism relating to wanting to ensure schools are safe before returning children back to schools and proposed 5 tests which the Government has failed to meet. The consequences of this has been that parents have not had the confidence to return their children back to school. The teachers have been the target to soften up the ground for attacking other key workers as we now see on Health care workers Being blamed for the scandalous death rates in care homes and the imposing of a workplace tax on nurses and doctors by way of car park charges especially at a time when the government is actively encouraging people not to travel by public transport. The budget has put billions into the pockets of the bosses but has put little into ensuring safety in schools or supporting people on the frontline. Health and safety should be the priority and the Government needs to ensure we raise standards not lower them in pursuit of profit and this is why we must send a clear message that we support the campaign not to return until it’s safe to do so.
Disabled People Against Cuts
The grassroots parent-led campaign ‘Boycott schools reopening in June’ have been campaigning hard to amplify the importance of the National Education Union’s five tests being met before increasing pupil numbers.
They are lobbying in the interests of school children, the people who work with them, the children of key workers and the vulnerable children who are already in school. As well as parents who are shielding.
They are clear in their message that until a robust and efficacious track and trace system is in place, it cannot possibly be safe if to reopen schools or widen pupil numbers.
They are also clear in their campaign message that they fully support teachers and school workers, as well as those parents who have no choice but to send their children into school at the moment.
We fully support the Boycott Schools Reopening in June campaign, and we echo their sentiments and campaign messages.
SAGE and independent SAGE scientists have stated on numerous occasions over the last couple of weeks that it is too soon to admit more pupils into our school systems at the moment, because case numbers of coronavirus are still far too high, and the track and trace plans are not yet in place on a national level.
40% of children with special educational needs as well as our BAME community members are at higher risk of complications from Covid-19.
This situation is far too dangerous not to be handled adequately.
There is not yet evidence of enough risk assessment and precautions, particularly with the protection of vulnerable groups in mind, in place in our schools.
The parents are right to be concerned and we are proud to stand with them.
Please join us in supporting them. This campaign is a gateway between people being forced back into unsafe workplaces, or having the chance to stay at home a little longer in the hope of us all staying safe.
If we can keep the schools closed and the numbers down, then we can keep that gateway closed but it’s going to take all of us to achieve that.
Solidarity with all teaching staff, school workers, and parents.
Strength In Unity.
Support from Yorkshire GMB
Thank you very much for your recent visit to our Unite Branch and the excellent contributions you and your colleague made to our discussion about the very serious problems posed by this Tory government’s policy, which advocates the re-opening of schools this September.
We learnt a lot from the information and issues you and your colleague highlighted. We’ve looked at the material you’ve sent us subsequently and discussed your campaign further at a recent Branch committee meeting, as well as acting on the suggestions you made to us.
We applaud what you are doing, fully support your campaign and urge parents, grandparents. teachers, trade unionists and other members of the community to support it too!
Please feel free to make use of this message of support in your campaign material and publicity as you think fit.
Regards and solidarity!
Jim Leigh, Secretary.
Dave Beale, Chair.
Unite NW/11500 Lancashire Community Branch
Sheffield Save Our NHS
Sheffield Save Our NHS (SSONHS) fully supports the ‘Boycott Schools Reopening in June’ campaign, and we echo its sentiments and campaign messages. The grassroots, parent-led initiative has been campaigning hard to amplify the importance of the National Education Union’s five tests being met. This is in the interests of school children, the people who is in place, it cannot be safe to reopen schools or widen pupil numbers. The campaign is also clear that it fully supports teachers and school workers, as well as those parents who have no choice but to send their children into school at the moment. SAGE and Independent SAGE scientists have stated on numerous occasions over the last couple of weeks that it is too soon to admit more pupils into our school systems at the moment because case numbers of Covid-19 are still far too high, and the track and trace plans are not yet in place on a national level. Sheffield’s Director of Public Health, Greg Fell, has also rightly identified effective track and trace as the factor on which wider school opening hinges, whilst all four national Directors of Public Health have recently vetoed downgrading the work with them, the children of key workers and the vulnerable children who are already in school. The campaign is clear in its message that until a robust and efficacious track and trace system Covid-19 threat level from 4 (at which schools should not implement wider re-opening) to 3. 40% of children with special educational needs as well as many members of our BAME community are at higher risk of complications from Covid-19. This situation is far too dangerous not to be handled adequately. There is not yet evidence of enough risk assessment and precautions, particularly with the protection of vulnerable groups in mind, in place. As SSONHS we are concerned about the potential of a second wave of Covid-19 cases overwhelming our NHS too. This is not inevitable; if those in authority put safety first in decisions about school attendance and re-opening workplaces, we can avoid thousands of potential infections, many more deaths, and the serious health consequences (such as PostViral Fatigue, and any number of as yet unquantified mental health difficulties) that this virus can cause. There is no room for experimentation in this unique and dangerous situation. The parents are right to be concerned and we are proud to stand with them.
Leigh Wilks – President, York & District TUC
I fully support the notion that it is too early to send kids back to school. The only way we know that we are beating this virus is if the “R” infection remains below 1; it is below 1 in some areas, but in others it seems to be increasing. This is not a safety first policy as far as I am concerned. We know COVID-19 is going to cause a severe economic shock, but there are policies that could deal with that – unfortunately they are not the policies of this Government. We have the worst death rate due to this pandemic than any other country in Europe – it is clear the Government’s strategy has been a disaster.
The campaign to allow children to return to school only when it is safe is the most sensible option, and the socialist option. But socialism is also concerned with Health & Safety – and the sensible option is for the risk assessments which have been carried out deeming these schools are safe, to be made available to the trades unions and other professional bodies for scrutiny and negotiation. There is no valid reason as to why anybody would object to a reasonable request to re-examine something so critical.
In conclusion, school children may not be susceptible to this disease – but their relatives and others are, and a too-early introduction could well cause a second wave of the worst crisis to hit the NHS in many years. Regardless of popular misconceptions with the flu, this is a terrible disease which causes respiratory distress and an unpleasant death. It is important for people to know just how serious this is. It is vital that we protect the community from it at all costs.
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