North East MPs urge Government to halt plans for reopening of schools

MPs from across the region have signed a joint letter to the Education Secretary calling on the Government to halt plans for the reopening of schools from June.

Wednesday, 20th May 2020, 5:28 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st May 2020, 2:57 pm

The letter, which was coordinated by Jarrow MP, Kate Osborne, claims it would be “reckless” and “incompetent” to reopen schools in the North East, while the area has one of the highest Covid-19 infection rates in country.

It has been signed by Labour MPs from across the region, including Mike Hill in Hartlepool, Ian Lavery in Northumberland and Emma Lewell-Buck in South Shields.

The letter addressed to Education Secretary, Gavin Willamson, requests that the Government “work collaboratively” with trade unions and parent organisations to ensure schools are safe for pupils, staff and their families before they are allowed to return to the classroom.

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MPs from across the North East have signed a joint letter to the Education Secretary. (From top left) Ian Lavery, Wansbeck, Emma Lewell-Buck, South Shields, Mike Hill Hartlepool and Kate Osborne, Jarrow.

It asks ministers to halt the plans for a phased reopening of schools from June 1 and instead focus on implementing a set of “practical safety conditions” such as those set out by the National Education Union.

The letter states: “Since the announcement last week, we have spoken to numerous headteachers, teachers, support staff and parents/carers within our constituencies as well as trade unions, of whom the majority feel that it is not safe for schools to be reopened at this time and are incredibly anxious and worried about the situation.

“For the government to reopen schools on the June 1, whilst our region has one of the highest rates in the country would be reckless and one of gross incompetence.”

Other signatories are City of Durham MP Mary Foy, Grahame Morris in Easington and Ian Mearns in Gateshead.

Jarrow MP Ms Osborne, commented: “Since the government announcement, I have reached out to all schools in my constituency, as well as education trade unions. I have also received an overwhelming amount of correspondence from worried parents & carers. Almost everyone believes it is not safe or the right thing to do.

“The government must listen to the concerns of those who this will have an impact on and halt the reckless reopening of schools immediately.

“We cannot treat children & their families, teachers and associated staff like guinea pigs.”

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