A letter from the leader of Southampton City Council said: ‘The Government has not shown clear leadership and refuses to engage with headteachers and trade unions’ legitimate concerns. ‘It’s becoming apparent that there will not be enough teachers in all schools to reopen safely.’ Brighton and Hove City Council went a step further and advised primary schools not to open, going against Department for Education orders. And Cumbria’s local director of public health and Kent’s council leader wrote to the Government yesterday, requesting to be allowed to keep schools closed. A number of primary schools in North Essex, Derbyshire, Merseyside and Nottinghamshire have also made the decision not to open. Aside from the risk of catching the virus, a number of schools have claimed there are not enough staff for them to reopen due to so many having to self-isolate.
The Local Government Association has called for headteachers and councils to be allowed to keep schools shut where they feel it is appropriate. Judith Blake, chairperson of its children and young people board, said: ‘It is important that schools have the local flexibility to take decisions about reopening – in consultation with their councils – based on the latest public health advice and data. ‘This is vital to reassure parents and carers that it is safe for their schools to reopen.’ And nine education unions have called on the Welsh Government to delay the reopening of schools. In a joint letter the unions say they ‘are at a complete loss to understand’ how schools can begin a phased return. Primary schools in all London boroughs, 11 boroughs in Essex, nine boroughs in Kent, two in East Sussex, four in Hertfordshire, and Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire have been ordered to stay closed from today, when term begins