Vix Lowthion

The Green Party of England and Wales has today backed calls from teaching unions to take steps to protect the safety of staff and students by moving to online learning from Monday. The call is designed to reduce the spread of infection of the new coronavirus variant.

Speaking on the decision to back the unions’ calls Green Party education spokesperson Vix Lowthion, a secondary school teacher on the Isle of Wight, said:

It is right that schools should only reopen when it is safe to do so and that cannot be the case with new-variant Covid spreading out of control. We fully support those unions who wish to remind staff of their legal rights not to work in an unsafe environment. Gavin Williamson needs to change his position on the reopening of primary schools urgently.

If the government had provided disadvantaged students with what they needed in terms of laptops and connectivity earlier in the year, it would have made it much easier for all concerned to carry out learning from home now. This oversight must be rectified as soon as possible so that access to education is maintained to the best possible standards while ensuring safety for all.

This is an extremely difficult time for parents, teachers and children and young people and so the government must listen carefully to the experts and trust teachers when they say it is not safe. This crisis is not going away any time soon. Teachers must be supported to deliver planned, high quality and sustainable learning within an environment which prioritises the health of the community.

For once, we hope the government will stick to its own mantra and actually follow the science to protect communities and families across the country.

The Green Party has also repeated its call for all frontline workers, including teachers, to be prioritised for vaccination.

Green Party health and social care spokesperson Larry Sanders said:

Many of these people who have been keeping society going may have health conditions that make them especially vulnerable to Covid and they have all been risking their lives for the common good.

They should receive greater priority when it comes to health protection.

Green run Brighton & Hove

The Green Party of England and Wales’ call comes as Green run Brighton & Hove City Council has written to primary schools in the city to advise them to move to remote learning until Monday 18 January.

Councillor Hannah Clare, Chair of the Children, Young People & Skills Committee on Brighton & Hove City Council said:

As a council, we want all schools to be fully open. However, we need to keep children, school staff and the wider community as safe as possible.

Therefore, Cllr Phélim Mac Cafferty as Leader of the Council, has today written to Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education to ask him to include primary schools in Brighton & Hove in the list of schools that have moved to remote learning.

Because of this belief, we have also written to primary schools in our city to advise them that we believe they should move to remote learning until Monday 18 January.

Clare went on to state that the council will provide support for schools to provide remote learning, and called for school staff to be prioritised in the vaccination programme:

We know that there will be sacrifices that have to be made as a result of this and that many families will now face challenges in finding the right childcare on a short time frame. We are sorry this is the case.

The Government has left us to make this decision that it is not brave enough to face and we hope to see a change of heart from them for primary schools across the south east.

Until then, we will work with our city’s primary schools to ensure they are supported in providing remote learning, while remaining open to the children of key workers, and vulnerable children.

In the next two weeks, we will use this time to seek urgent clarity from Government on how it will ensure that school staff are vaccinated as a priority.

Before Christmas, Greenwich council sought to close its schools, but was forced to backtrack after legal threats from the government in Westminster.

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