Bristol schools react to Boris Johnson’s announcement

bristol schools react to boris johnsons announcement - Bristol schools react to Boris Johnson's announcement

A Bristol secondary school teacher says the return of all pupils to schools in England on the same day is a “reckless course of action”, following the Prime Minister’s announcement this afternoon (February 22).

In his ‘road map’ out of the coronavirus restrictions, Boris Johnson confirmed that all pupils will go back to school two weeks from today on March 8, and all secondary and college pupils will be tested for coronavirus twice a week.

He told MPs: “All the evidence shows that classrooms are the best places for our young people to be and that’s why I’ve always said that schools would be the last to close and the first to reopen.

“And based on our assessment of the current data against the four tests, I can tell the House that two weeks from today, pupils and students in all schools and further education settings can safely return to face-to-face teaching, supported by twice weekly testing of secondary school and college pupils.

“Families and childcare bubbles will also be encouraged to get tested regularly. Breakfast and after-school clubs can also reopen and other children’s activities including sport can restart where necessary to help parents to work.”

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But David Otlet, the branch secretary for the National Education Union (NEU) in Bristol, who also works as a secondary school teacher, says he thinks reopening schools to all pupils on the same day does not seem wise.

Mr Otlet said he is eager for pupils to return to school, but is concerned that sending them all back at the same time will make things “slower in the long run.”

“We want students to go back, but most secondary schools in Bristol have over 1000 students. It doesn’t seem wise to send them back at the same time.”

Mr Otlet referred to an official statement from the NEU, which reads: “We are committed to bringing all children and young people back into the classroom as soon as possible.

“However, it is counterproductive if there is a danger of causing another surge in the virus, and the potential for a further period of lockdown. Wider opening must be safe and sustainable.

“We are increasingly concerned that the government is minded to order a full return of all pupils on Monday 8 March in England.

“This would seem a reckless course of action. It could trigger another spike in Covid infections, prolong the disruption of education, and risk throwing away the hard-won progress made in suppressing the virus over the course of the latest lockdown.

“The science around the role that schools play in the overall rate of transmission is uncertain.

“Scientists have expressed different views on this point. What we do know is that the full reopening of schools will bring nearly 10 million pupils and staff into circulation in England – close to one fifth of the population. This is not a small easing of lockdown restrictions. It is a massive step.

“These factors necessitate a cautious approach with wider school and college opening phased over a period of time. This is the approach being taken in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It allows public health experts to assess the impact of the first phase before moving to the next.

“None of this is intended to stand in the way of the full reopening of schools and colleges. On the contrary. It is intended as a prudent way forward to ensure that once they are fully open, they stay open.”

It comes as some Bristol schools are preparing their classrooms for a full return on March 8.

A spokesperson from Avanti Gardens School in Fishponds said: “The team and I at Avanti Gardens School are extremely excited to welcome all pupils back to school when it is safe to do so.

“Avanti Gardens is well placed to ensure all children are given the nurture and academic rigour to bounce back from the impact of the pandemic.

“With daily PHSE, weekly yoga and a reformed and aspirational curriculum, all pupils will be reintegrated to ensure their wellbeing and social literacy are addressed and built upon to address the learning needs of all pupils due to the recent lockdown.

“There has been lots of site development throughout the lockdown; we can’t wait to see the children’s reaction to some of our new learning spaces.

“Avanti Gardens will continue to implement our stringent safety measures such as classroom sanitisation stations, thermometer checks upon entry, bubble play areas and much more to keep our school community as safe as possible. We are fortunate to have an extremely conscientious and diligent family body who continue to support the school to keep the fishponds community safe

“[We] will continue to implement our stringent safety measures such as classroom sanitisation stations, thermometer checks upon entry, bubble play areas and much more to keep our school community as safe as possible.

“We are fortunate to have an extremely conscientious and diligent family body who continue to support the school to keep the fishponds community safe.”

For more information on what the Prime Minister said in the House of Commons, see our live blog.

What do you think about the reopening of schools to all pupils in England on March 8? Share your thoughts by emailing beth.cruse@reachplc.com

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