A plea to defer primary school openings has been refused by the Government.
Cumbria County Council wrote to the Department for Education to allow schools to close for face-to-face learning for the majority of pupils – except those who are vulnerable or are the children of critical workers.
However, the Government refused.
Stewart Young, leader of Cumbria County Council, said: “Sadly the situation in Cumbria continues to get worse and we are seeing significant increases in the number of people infected with COVID.
“We feel strongly that more needs to be done to help protect residents and our communities and we are deeply concerned about the likelihood of further significant transmission as a result of schools reopening from Monday January 4.
“As such we asked Government to move Cumbria into the National Department for Education contingency framework for the next two weeks, allowing primary schools to defer reopening to all children, except the most vulnerable and the children of key workers.
“They have now responded and Government have decided that for now Cumbria’s primary schools should reopen as planned.
“This is disappointing news and I feel that this is the wrong decision for Cumbria and for our families and communities.
“They have however committed to work with us next week to look again at the situation in Cumbria and together I hope we can agree additional measures that can be put into place to help manage the spread of the infection and therefore protect our residents and communities from this very challenging pandemic.
“The county council cannot instruct schools not to reopen.
“That is a decision for the governors of each school on the advice of their headteacher.
“However, we are concerned, given the current situation, about both staff and pupil welfare and safety and we recognise the enormous strain and pressure being placed on school governors and headteachers.
“I therefore give an assurance that any school in Cumbria that decides that at the present time they are only able to extend direct provision to vulnerable children and the children of key workers, and that they cannot open the school fully in line with government instruction, will have the full support and backing of Cumbria County Council.”
Schools across the county have taken to social media today to tell parents and carers that they will not be opening to pupils due to issues around COVID-19.
A post from St Paul’s Junior School in Seaton, near Workington, published tonight, said: “Sincere apologies for the late update.
“Although the Department for Education have declined to delay the opening of Cumbrian primary schools, there are still issues around us opening school to children tomorrow.
“In line with Cumbria County Council advice, we will be taking an emergency inset day.
“This will give us the opportunity to plan fully and correctly for the coming days.”
The list of school closures is below.
This may change as the evening progresses and parents and carers should check with their schools in the usual manner to find out the situation.
- Lowther Endowed School
CLOSED 31 December 2020,
RE-OPENS 11 January 2021.
Closed due to staff shortage.
- Yanwath Primary School
CLOSED 03 January 2021,
RE-OPENS 23:59 on 04 January 2021.
The school is closed for an emergency INSET Day due to Covid 19