‘Government had no alternative but to scrap school reopening plans’ – Herts councillor

Hertfordshire councillors have agreed it was the 'right decision' to scrap reopening plans. Picture:

Hertfordshire councillors have agreed it was the 'right decision' to scrap reopening plans. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

The government had no alternative but to roll back on plans for all primary age pupils to return to school before the summer, a leading Hertfordshire councillor has said.

Last week, primary schools across the country were asked to reopen for pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 – and there had been plans for all other primary age children to return by the end of the summer term.

Yesterday however, it was announced that the government has now dropped its plans for all primary age pupils to return.

Following the announcement, Cllr Terry Douris, executive member for education, libraries and localism at the county council, said he did not think the government had any alternative.

“We understand the reasoning behind the change, and I think that has come with the recognition that schools are lacking the physical space,” he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

“We want to do the best we can for our young people of all ages. We want to do the best in maintaining their education and their social behaviour, but we equally have to recognise the challenges we face in terms of social distancing.

“And the one thing we absolutely mustn’t do is to allow the pandemic to have a further peak. If we have to take this action to prevent a peak forming that’s what we must do for the benefit of the country.”

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Leader of the county council’s Liberal Democrat group Cllr Stephen Giles-Medurst agreed it was a “sensible” decision that was “not unexpected”. But he said he would have preferred the government not to have been so forceful in its initial plans.

Cllr Giles-Medurst also said it would mean teachers are not put under additional pressure, a week after reopening to three years groups.

Leader of the county council’s Labour group Cllr Judi Billing said Labour councillors were “relieved” that the government had realised the move wasn’t feasible.

Cllr Billing said: “There are of course massive problems associated with a lack of formal education for our children, and especially those living in poverty, in danger or with special educational needs.

“I would now urge the government and the county council to turn their attention to how those children can be supported as a matter of urgency.”

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