12 October 2020
Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley has called on Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to act on the evidence that schools and universities are the most significant source of new coronavirus cases.1
Ahead of the Prime Minister’s announcement on the new three tier lockdown, Bartley said:
“While there is cross-party agreement that we need to keep schools open and not interrupt our children’s education, Gavin Williamson is failing to do this in a way that is safe for our children and our teaching staff.
“As with the exams fiasco, he appears to be asleep at the wheel while the sector he is responsible for is driving the exponential rise in infections and putting lives and livelihoods at risk.”
Vix Lowthion, Green Party education spokesperson and a teacher on the Isle of Wight, said:
“I have been concerned from the start about the limited access to testing for pupils and staff, as well as the lack of mandatory mask wearing inside our schools, many of which have poorly ventilated spaces
“The idea that a year group of perhaps 300 can be a Covid-secure ‘bubble’ never made sense.
“We need to see much stronger measures in schools, including blended learning with proper support for days when pupils are at home.
“As the Prime Minister announces new restrictions, we have to protect children, staff and the communities they serve. We cannot leave schools out of these measures.”
Jonathan Bartley concluded:
‘Williamson has already let students down over their exam results and now he is not acting to keep them safe at university. We need urgent action from the Education Secretary to improve the containment of Covid-19 in our schools and universities.’
PHE’s latest Weekly Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)surveillance report for week 40, up to 27th September, shows that the highest rates of infection are occurring in educational settings (Figure 20) in age-groups 20-29 and 10-19 (Figure 4).