11th Jul, 2020

Row over reopening of Coventry schools following union's Zoom meeting

John Carlon 20th May, 2020

THE REOPENING of Coventry schools ‘risks exposing children’, Coventry MP Zarah Sultana and teachers’ unions claim.

The government has said by June 1 it hopes to see classrooms open for year 10 and year 12 students, as well as primary schools starting to bring back pupils from the coronavirus lockdown.

But one union, NASUWT, said it remained “unconvinced” reopening schools was “appropriate or practicable.”

As ministers and teaching unions grappled with the national policy, opposing views have been aired by politicians in Coventry.

A Zoom meeting convened by teaching groups yesterday (May 19), was said to have a ‘negative approach’ by one Coventry councillor.

Councillor John Blundell, Conservative shadow cabinet member for education, said: “I was disappointed with the call yesterday with the NEU and their negative approach to children returning to school.

“I was hoping for a balanced discussion and I consider that did not happen.”

However, newly elected Labour MP for Coventry South, Zarah Sultana, lent weight to the union’s refusal to support the reopening of schools.

She said: “Nearly 200 Coventry teachers, parents and concerned residents joined an National Education Union meeting yesterday on the theme “No Going Back To School Until It’s Safe.”

“The safety of our children, teachers and community must be the priority and that’s why I fully support the NEU’s five tests on reopening schools.”

As reported in the Observer, the Conservative-led Solihull Council this week warned some school places may not be ready for the first week of June

Solihull Council suggested some returning pupils to schools could see reopenings delayed beyond the government’s timetable, as schools are ‘not ready’ to admit their students from ministers’ planned date of June 1.

A spokeswoman for Solihull Council said: “Schools in Solihull are currently undertaking detailed risk assessments and putting in place a range of protective measures so that they are ready to welcome back more pupils.

“The council has been clear from the outset that the safety of schools for pupils, their families and the workforce is its number one priority. Only when we are convinced that schools are ready and safe would it support wider opening for more pupils.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We want children back in schools as soon as possible, because being with their teachers and friends is so important for their education and their wellbeing.”

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