England’s children commissioner Anne Longfield has implored the country’s government and teachers’ unions to to “stop squabbling” over when children can return to school.
England is among several countries eager to return to relative normality, after several weeks of lockdown as a preventative measure against the spread of the coronavirus.
“I am disappointed that the debate about when some primary school kids can return has descended into a squabble between government and the teaching unions,” said Longfield.
“All sides need to show a greater will to work together in the interests of children. We cannot afford to wait for a vaccine, which may never arrive, before children are back in school.”
Longfield’s remarks after teachers’ unions all but demanded more answers from the government about the safety of reopening primary schools next month.
Away from London
Meanwhile, Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson has criticised Oasis Trust founder Steve Chalke for saying it was “common sense” for pupils to return to school.
“I think that’s an absolute disgrace and an insult to children whether they live in disadvantaged communities or households. I will only allow schools to let children, teachers and ancillary staff back into schools if it’s safe to do so. This has got nothing to do with disadvantaged children or politics, it’s got everything to do with the safety of children,” Anderson told Sky News.
“The bottom line is I’ve heard scientists give different opinions. These same scientists told us that there was no problem with care homes and the infection rates there.”
Education secretary Gavin Williamson has revealed plans to loosen the stalemate between the government and teachers’ unions.
National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers general secretary, doctor Patrick Roach added: “The NASUWT remains clear that no school should reopen until it can demonstrate that it is safe to do so.
“No clear information was provided on what modelling has been undertaken in relation to potential transmission rates when schools open more widely. Nothing in the meeting provided reassurance for the deeply worried and anxious school workforce.
“We are continuing to press for answers to these questions and also for clear guidance from government to schools to ensure that they take appropriate and reasonable steps to assess and mitigate the health and safety risks posed by Covid-19.”