#coronavirus #COVID19 Brighton and Hove school closures due to coronavirus cases – The Argus
THE majority of the city’s primary schools are to remain closed today after a council leader’s intervention.
Green Party Brighton and Hove City Council leader Phelim Mac Cafferty wrote to headteachers and advised them to stay closed as coronavirus infections continue to soar.
He also wrote to the education secretary Gavin Williamson asking for schools to be included in Tier 4 contingency plans following a government U-turn to shut schools in London on Friday.
Within hours of the letter from Cllr Mac Cafferty, parents with children in many primary schools across Brighton and Hove received emails from headteachers telling them to stay at home until January 18.
That was despite the Prime Minister’s advice yesterday that primary schools in Brighton and Hove should stay open and that schools are safe.
Council sources said the majority of primary schools will be closed today, but it is a decision schools have to make individually.
Among them is Moulsecoomb Primary School in Brighton, which announced it will be closed due to increased Covid-19 cases in the area.
Writing on the school’s Facebook page, head teacher Adam Sutton said: “I’m sorry that the New Year has started in this way, we look forward to seeing all children back with us soon.”
On Friday the government did a U-turn to announce that all primary schools in London would not reopen for the start of term on Monday.
Secondary schools will only be open for the children of key workers and for pupils facing examinations.
But all primary schools in the Rother and Hastings areas of East Sussex were also told to close, along with others in Kent and Essex as the government tries to cut Covid-19 cases.
Hospitals in the South East are facing increasing pressure on wards as the number of patients being admitted continues to rise.
Teaching unions have said the school closure plan should be extended across the country, and have told members it is not safe for them to go back to work.
Cllr Mac Cafferty said: “There are grave concerns regarding primary schools in our city opening to all pupils from 4 January given the ever increasing Covid 19 infection rates.”
He said the infection rate in Brighton and Hove has shot up by more than five times in just three weeks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared on The Andrew Marr show on the BBC yesterday.
He did not respond to questions about whether the government would take legal action against Brighton and Hove City Council.
Mr Marr asked if he condemned the decision of Cllr Mac Cafferty in Brighton to write to schools to advise them to close.
The Prime Minister said: “I understand people’s frustrations and anxieties. But there is no doubt in my mind that schools are safe and education is a priority.”
Mr Marr asked if local authorities like Brighton have essentially “given up” on the government and are waiting for effective leadership, and “taken matters into their own hands”.
Mr Johnson said: “I don’t think that is the case, we are going to work with local authorities, and our advice remains the same. For public health reasons, we think in the large majority of the country it is sensible to keep schools open.”
The infection rate in Brighton at the beginning of December was about 50 infections per 100,000 people in the population, but rose to 388 per 100,000.
In the letter Cllr Mac Cafferty added: “The early indications are that this sharp increase is continuing and we will approach rates of approximately 500 per 100,000 in the next few days.
“This rapid increase is mirrored in the rates in our children and young people. The city’s all ages pattern is similar to that previously seen in urban areas of Kent and East Sussex.
“As a council we are committed to ensuring that our children, school staff and wider communities are kept as safe as possible from Covid-19. Today, we have advised our primary schools to move to remote learning for the majority of pupils from 4 January.”
Mr Williamson said in mid-December that all primary school pupils in England would return as normal in January. But after strong pressure, the government changed its position to firstly call for a phased return of secondary school pupils until January 18.
Then primary schools in London were also closed.