Shropshire Star

Some Shropshire primary schools stay shut on first day of term

A number of primary schools have stayed shut on the first day of term in Shropshire amid union calls for the Government to keep classrooms closed.

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Some primary schools were back open for the first day of term on Monday

Several schools in the Telford & Wrekin borough were closed on Monday - or only open to the children of key workers - including Coalbrookdale, St Peter's Bratton, and Lawley.

Others opened as planned but many were awaiting the outcome of further discussions on Monday or had students at home due to planned teacher training days.

It comes after many teachers in Shropshire opted to support a union stance that face-to-face teaching risks spreading Covid, and putting workers at risk.

A letter sent to parents from Lawley Primary School on Sunday said the school would be providing online learning for pupils.

Chair of governors Kirsty Smallman said: "A high number of our teaching staff have opted to support the union guidance and will not be in a position to attend school tomorrow to teach face to face. However they will be working from home and running the on-line learning for their individual classes.

"The situation means we will not be able to offer face to face teaching in school tomorrow as planned and all classes (except key worker and vulnerable children) will move to on-line learning.

"At the moment this will continue to run in the same way as it has previously during lockdown and recent isolation periods.

"This difficult decision has been made following an updated risk assessment and the staff availability which means we do not have enough staff to teach the children safely within school."

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Mrs Smallman said the situation was expected to remain the same for at least two weeks.

She said: "At this stage the unions have said this will initially be the case for the next two weeks but it is subject to review depending on the local cases and also guidance from government which as we know can change at any time."

She added: "We must stress the decisions made are not only to protect the health of the staff members and their own families but also your children and of course you – their parents and carers.

"We know the new variant is spreading rapidly throughout communities and teachers do not feel it is safe to return to the classroom for their own health or that of the children and you as their families.

"This is a very emotional time as each staff member has expressed their sadness at the decision they have made and their disappointment at not returning to the classroom tomorrow morning."

Telford & Wrekin Council said that although it does not have the power to shut schools itself, it will back any school that chooses to keep classrooms closed due to Covid.

Coalbrookdale & Ironbridge Primary told parents they would assess the situation pending any developments on Monday.

Coalbrookdale and Ironbridge C of E Primary School was closed today

Writing on Sunday, headteacher Mandy Dhaliwal said: "The chair of governors and I have met today and in response to the ongoing national pandemic, the governing board has decided to close school for pupils on Monday, January 4, 2021.

"As a school we have a duty to ensure the safety of all pupils and staff and given the national picture and advice received from unions and the local authority, school will be taking a further day to assess the situation.

"Staff have been advised by unions that school is unsafe for them to return to work. Unions are awaiting scientific evidence from the government, expected by 4pm tomorrow. This will allow further decisions to be made for school opening.

"We are aware of the potential disruption this may cause. However, once we have received further information from unions and the government regarding the safety of the school, we can then make the best decision."

Posting on its website St Peter's said that it would be closed on Monday and Tuesday to all but vulnerable children and those of key workers.

Despite the situation, many primary schools opened as expected on Monday - including Oxon, Longden, and Coleham in Shrewsbury.

A far higher percentage of primaries have closed in areas across the West Midlands with higher infection rates, such as Wolverhampton where the majority of schools were shut on Monday.

Elsewhere in the country, all of London’s primary schools and those in some surrounding areas are staying shut until January 18 due to the fast-spreading variant of Covid-19 while secondary schools will have a staggered return, with those taking exams this year resuming in-person teaching on January 11 and other year groups on January 18.

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