The Dartford Borough Labour Group have written to Matt Dunkley CBE; Corporate Director of Children, Young People and Education at KCC, Gareth Johnson MP and Gavin Williamson MP; Secretary of State for Education, regarding their concerns on the plans to re-open schools;
“We are contacting you with our concerns regarding the suggested phased re-opening of schools from June 1st.
Schools have been continuing to support children of key-workers and the most vulnerable children since lockdown measures were put in place. Sadly initial reports have shown that at least 60 teachers and support staff have died from COVID-19 over the last 6 weeks. This figure is likely to be higher, as so far data has only been taken from those under 64 years old.
We are all aware that schools can act as a Petri dish for germs and that viruses can spread like wildfire in these settings. This is verified by research, such as a study published by the University of East Anglia, which has emphasised one of the most effective ways of controlling the spread of Coronavirus is to keep schools closed until the rate of infection is down. However, with the UK rates of infection still nowhere near being under control, the government have now suggested a phased return of children from June 1st. We are particularly concerned at the suggestion of mainly infant aged pupils returning. Children of this age will find it incredibly hard to understand about social distancing and to maintain the necessary hygiene standards.
As of today, 33,186 people have lost their lives to Coronavirus in this country, the highest mortality rate in Europe. The death rate we could be facing if schools do return before it is safe to do is unfathomable! We have a duty to save every life we possibly can.
There have been cases of Kawasaki disease in the UK, an inflammatory blood disorder that has been linked to children who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Although rare, this is of course very alarming for parents and school workers alike.
We would therefore like to know what reassurances, as well as practical guidance and support you will be offering to school teachers, support staff and parents, whose children may be expected to return to school as early as next month. We would also ask why as a nation we are going against the grain of other countries who have protected their citizens, and only gradually started to ease lockdown measures when it was safe to do so?
We await your response,
The Dartford Borough Council Labour Group”