BREAKING NEWS – 8.00pm Monday 4th January 2021
In a sombre ‘live’ broadcast from Downing Street, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just announced that a third national ‘lockdown’ in England is being introduced, in a new bid to bring the latest Coronavirus outbreak under control.
This time around all schools will be closed, from tomorrow (Tuesday 5th January) until at least the February half-term, with a return to online learning. Exceptions to this will be vulnerable pupils and children of critical workers, who will still be accommodated in class.
Mr Johnson also promised that children who normally qualify for free school meals will receive them whilst their school is shut.
You can find details of what the new ‘lockdown’ will mean for other aspects of our village life >>HERE<<.
Whilst the Government is continuing to dismiss calls to delay the reopening of all England’s primary schools, amid worries over the current surge of a more infectious COVID-19 strain, like many others James Peacock Infant and Nursery School in Ruddington has had to take its own decision to remain closed today (Monday 4th January).
In a letter to parents, Head Teacher Richard Waldron explains: “This is due to staff who have written to me on advice from Trade Unions under the Health & Safety Act 1974. This means that we do not have sufficient staff to teach and/or support all children in school. Discussions between schools, the unions and the local authority remain ongoing and we will notify you of the outcome of these as soon as possible. For the time being, learning will be remote except for critical/keyworker and vulnerable pupils.”
Children in this category have already been assessed and most should be able to return to school from this Tuesday, subject to the number of staff and physical space available in the school to support these pupils. However, Mr Waldron continues: “We ask that if you are a critical/keyworker, but there is another adult in the household who is based at home, that if possible you keep your child at home. Remote learning will be organised as soon as is practicable and further information on this will be emailed out at our earliest opportunity.”
For those who will need to return their kids to school, Mr Waldron adds: “Please rest assured that we will continue to keep our school environment as safe as possible and in line with our school risk assessment. We hope that this letter finds you safe and well and apologise for the uncertainty it brings and for your patience and understanding in this matter.”
Meantime, pupils at St Peter’s C of E Junior School in our village have been able to return to school as usual today.
In a letter to parents there, Head Teacher Michael Bradley says: “Please be assured that, as communicated previously, St Peter’s will continue to open as normal. There can be no denying that we are in for a bumpy ride over the next month or two. Class closures and disruption will, unfortunately, continue to be a way of life. The Prime Minister has also stated that tougher restrictions are expected which may lead to further school closures across the country. To prepare for this, we will be sending out a questionnaire to see who would need key worker provision if the Government or Local Authority instructed us to partially close.”
Whilst reminding parents and guardians about important safety advice, he adds: “In the meantime, whilst fraught with uncertainty and risk, I do believe that, at the moment, the best place for my own children and pupils at St Peter’s is in school. Although we continue to face difficult times, please remember that this too shall pass and that Spring will soon be here.”
With the rollout of the now approved Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine starting today, only time will tell whether current Tier 4 restrictions will be enough – or whether another government U-turn will see most Ruddington schoolchildren back at home soon, in a bid to control the rampant Coronavirus.