|Figures at 6pm Monday December 28th 2020|
As the number of active Covid cases continues to rise in Brent and nationally the National Education Union has written to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Education calling for schools and colleges to be closed for at least the first 2 weeks of January, with on-line learning for all pupils except for vulnerbale children and children of key workers who woul;d attend school.
Dear Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Education,We last wrote to you on 21st December, calling for on-line learning in schools and colleges for the first fortnight of January 2021, for the Government to use that time to support local directors of Public Health in setting up mass testing programmes for schools and for the beginning of vaccination of education staff.As we explained in that letter we believe each of these steps would help provide more continuity of education for our young people – and we expressed our willingness to be involved in discussions of how best to implement such programmes. You have not replied to that letter.Today we are writing to ask you to share with the teaching profession and with education staff the advice you have been given by the Chief Medical Officer and/or the Chief Scientific officer or their deputies on:The Education Continuity Order issued to Greenwich Council on 14th December andYour proposals for education in the New YearYour modelling of case rates given the best understanding of the new variantThe order issued to Greenwich on 14th December had the effect of ensuring that secondary and primary schools that would have otherwise begun a period of online learning during the last week of term continued with physical teaching: it also meant that other London borough councils contemplating similar advice withdrew from those positions.Yet in the latest Coronavirus test data it is clear that the infection rate amongst school age children continued to increase sharply during that last week of term.And it is clear that by the end of term school age children had the highest infection rates of any of the age demographics analysed by the ONS. Primary, Secondary and Higher Education age groups all have more than 2,000 cases per hundred thousand; much more than any other demographics.Secondary aged pupils have by far the highest rate of all age groups and the highest increase in multiples since September – with cases having increased 75 time since then.
Cases per 100k
Cases per 100k
Increase in multiples
Aged 2 - Year 6
Year 7 – Year 11
Year 12 - Aged 24
Aged 25 – 34
Aged 35 - 49
Aged 50 – 69
Aged 70 +
12Table shows Cases per 100,000 from the ONS Coronavirus Infection Survey, tabulation by the NEU
Given the recent, though late, acknowledgements that school age children can transmit the virus, including to their families and staff, we think it is very important that the advice given by the CMO and/or the CSO is public.This paper from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Imperial college argues that Tier 4 will not be enough to control the new variant without school closures: https://cmmid.github.io/topics/covid19/uk-novel-variant.htmlIt is very important that you also release your own modelling of what might happen to cases amongst pupils, parents and staff given the best current understanding of the new variant of the virus.For all of these reasons we call on you to release the advice and modelling we ask for in this letter. It is not too much to ask for this nor to ask that you implement the steps we called for in our previous letters to you.You are asking teachers and support staff to teach in often poorly ventilated classrooms, with no PPE in those classrooms and with the ability to socially distance very limited. As it is your Government that is making these plans it is clearly your responsibility to ensure safe working for staff and for you to understand, mitigate and communicate the risks.We have previously asked the Secretary of State to share with us the numbers of education staff that tested positive in each week since September, the number who have been hospitalised and the number who have died. So far that information has not been shared with us.You certainly cannot expect education staff to show good will towards your plans for education if you do not at least share all the information you have about this dreadful disease with them.Yours sincerely,Mary Bousted Kevin CourtneyJoint General Secretary Joint General Secretary
On a lighter but telling note this was posted on Twitter by DystopianHeadteacher