The government's plan to get young kids back in school from June 1 has gone down about as well as a fart in a perfume store, and now that everyone has been huffing on it for a while, they've decided it's not for them.
When the Prime Minister unveiled his lockdown exit strategy, he stressed that as long as the five check boxes outlined at the beginning of the month are met, the plan will continue as outlined - and that involved carting off kids back to school from June 1. Not everyone thinks this is a good idea, because it's not, frankly; and 18 councils have told the government that they ether won't be complying or will leave it to individual schools to decide, meaning up to 1,500 schools could remain closed at the start of phase two next month.
The good news about this open defiance is that there won't be fines or other disproportionate consequences for not sending your kids back, and hopefully more councils will evaluate the chances of the five key points realistically being met in the space of just under two weeks. Downing Street has confirmed that any talks on the matter will be “in a consultative way" and that councils or schools that shun the June 1 date won't receive any penalties for doing so. Boris Johnson's spokesperson said:
"We are continuing to work closely with teachers, schools and the unions, as we have done for the past eight weeks, and remain keen to hear any concerns they may have.
“We are preparing for the possible opening of schools for more children from 1 June at the earliest, but that will only happen if it is safe to do so. But we do also have to bear in mind the harm which can be done to children by missing out on important education.”
Interestingly, deputy chief scientific adviser Dame Angela McLean said that any easing up of lockdown restrictions would require a system for tracing and isolating new cases which sounds like a way to shoehorn that shit heap NHS contact tracing app into everyone's lives. She added that we should be basing decisions on “observed levels of infection … and not of a fixed date” which is supposed to be what the exit strategy is doing, but it being criticised for neglecting that and barrelling ahead with these arbitrary dates.
Calderdale council in Yorkshire - one of the bodies that's telling the government to piss off - has said that the “clear professional advice” shows that the five tests aren't actually being met, which is what the entire plan is hinged on. The Labour leader of Calderdale council, Tim Swift, said:
"There is not enough evidence that the levels of infection in the community are low and falling; and we are not confident that there is guaranteed access to testing so that, in the event of a case, both the individual concerned and all their contacts can be identified and rapidly tested for the virus.
"Our priority as a council and as a Labour group throughout this crisis has been to put the safety and wellbeing of our community first. For these reasons, whilst we want our schools to plan for opening up to more children when it is safe to do so, we are strongly advising schools that they should not be doing this as soon as 1 June.”
Leeds, Birmingham, Solihull, and Bradford councils have all expressed the same sentiment - they won't open schools until it's actually safe to do so. Crazy idea, I know. If you're dubious about sending your own kids back to school, we advise you get in contact with your local council and schools and kick up a stink if they're not already doing so. [The Guardian]
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