CoronavirusEducationGreenwich

Gavin Williamson refuses to answer why schools in Greenwich were told to open despite high Covid rates

The Department of Education has refused to answer a request asking why Greenwich schools were ordered to remain open in December despite high rates of coronavirus.
At the end of last year, Greenwich council wrote to head teachers recommending that they move to remote learning. But the Government intervened and ordered them to remain open.
The council was also threatened with court action.
At the time there were 764 cases per 100,000 people in the borough. But in Kensington and Chelsea, where rates were at 496 per 100,000 people, schools were allowed to close.
According to Greenwich council, the Freedom of Information request response said that public interest in non-disclosure “outweighs the public interest in disclosure in this case”, and premature disclosure would likely “disrupt the future working relationships, necessary consultation and flow of ministerial advice”.
Greenwich council is backing calls for Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to explain the decisions.
Cllr Danny Thorpe, leader of Greenwich council, said: “As a teacher, I obviously want our children back in school and back in the classrooms, with their friends and learning with their peers. But we have to be realistic and do what is necessary to keep each other safe.
“It was astounding that at a time when our rates were rocketing, we were told that our children should not stay at home.
“Clearly, that decision was wrong. It is astounding now that we are still being kept in the dark as to why that decision was made in the first place, and their refusal will further erode trust in the Department’s response. It is simply not acceptable to behave in this way and will only add to the suspicion that this bizzare decision was not based on the data.
“It is essential that local authorities, and the public, are aware of the rationale behind the rules which are governing our lives.
“Our schools, our parents and our vital teachers deserve the right to know that decision makers have their best interests at heart. The Prime Minister himself told the country that schools were “vectors” of transmission, yet we haven’t heard yet why this is no longer the case. We all want a clear plan for how and when schools will reopen, and the first step towards that is for the Education Secretary to explain exactly what data they were using to justify themselves when they threatened to take us to court.
“We will continue to push for a clear and sensible plan to get our children back into classrooms, both in the short, and the long term. That is, at the very least, what our teachers and children deserve.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said: “We are fully committed to reopening schools as soon as the public health picture allows, and right through the pandemic have taken every step to ensure pupils can spend as much time in classrooms as possible.
“We will set out plans for schools, parents and pupils as soon as possible, providing as much notice as we can.
“We regularly review evidence and advice from sources including SAGE, PHE and ONS, to ensure our policies are guided by the most up-to-date scientific and medical understanding.”

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One thought on “Gavin Williamson refuses to answer why schools in Greenwich were told to open despite high Covid rates

  • Ann Galloway

    A shocking error of judgement from those supposed to be responsible at national level. This undoubtedly led to a surge in deaths. They need to start listening to those on the ground at local level.

    Reply

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