Harlow Labour put pressure on Tory-Essex County Council over school openings

HARLOW’S Labour Councillors put pressure on Tory controlled Essex County Council today to not fully open schools in Harlow until it is safe to do so.

In a letter to the Tory leader of Essex County Council: Councillor David Finch, the Labour Group of Harlow Councillors implored him to use his powers on behalf of young people, their parents and their teachers in Harlow to keep schools from fully opening until it is safe to do so.

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Councillor David Finch,

We hope this letter finds you well.

We are writing to you on behalf of school teachers, school children and their families in Harlow. The Government proposes 1st June as the date for schools across Essex to open their gates to more pupils and teachers, we ask you at a County level to reconsider.

We recognise the importance of education to young people across Essex and we support the government’s ambition to encourage the return to school of more pupils as soon as it is safe to do so, however we submit to you that 1st June is too soon to be safe. We therefore implore you as leader of the County Council, to act against the further opening of schools on 1st June.

In a statement to the press at the weekend, we laid out 5 key tests to be met before we consider it safe for schools to open further in Harlow:

Test 1 : Much lower numbers of Covid-19 cases The new case count must be much lower than it is now, with a sustained downward trend and confidence that new cases are known and counted promptly. And the Government must have extensive arrangements for testing and contact tracing to keep it that way.

Test 2 : A national plan for social distancing The Government must have a national plan including parameters for both appropriate physical distancing and levels of social mixing in schools, as well as for appropriate PPE, which will be locally negotiated at school-by-school and local authority level.

Test 3 : Testing, testing, testing!

Comprehensive access to regular testing for children and staff to ensure our schools and colleges don’t become hot spots for Covid-19.

Test 4 : Whole school strategy protocols to be put in place to test a whole school or college when a case occurs and for isolation to be strictly followed.

Test 5 : Protection for the vulnerable. Has Vulnerable staff, and staff who live with vulnerable people, must work from home, fulfilling their professional duties to the extent that is possible. Plans must specifically address the protection of vulnerable parents, grandparents and carers.

We submit to you that these tests have not been met sufficiently to warrant schools opening further in Harlow on 1st June.

At this unique time of national crisis, public safety must come above anything else and in the interests of public safety we feel it is down to you to take action to ensure schools do not open further.

We pledge to do everything in our power as Harlow District Councillors to aid you in that endeavour.


Councillor Mark Ingall, Leader of Harlow Council

Councillor Eugenie Harvey, Deputy Leader of Harlow Council

Councillor Jean Clark

Councillor Michael Danvers

Councillor Bob Davis

Councillor Jodi Dunne

Councillor Tony Durcan

Councillor Tony Edwards

Councillor Margaret Hulcoop

Councillor Shannon Jezzard

Councillor Frances Mason

Councillor Stefan Mullard

Councillor Danny Purton

Councillor Lanie Shears

Councillor John Strachan

Councillor Emma Toal

Councillor Chris Vince

Councillor Nancy Watson

Councillor Phil Waite

Councillor Mark Wilkinson

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One Response to "Harlow Labour put pressure on Tory-Essex County Council over school openings"

  1. jhumphreys84   May 23, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    Given Keir Starmer has called for schools to resume as soon as it is safe to do so, surely it’s time to look at how they reopen safely rather than putting it back as far as possible? Especially as the party leader seems to be calling for a “consensus” on reopening and “wants it to happen as soon as it can.”

    In addition these tests haven’t changed since last week, and they weren’t any good then. In terms of protection for staff, they have been at most risk the last few weeks looming after the children of key workers who may come into contact with the disease. Letting those return who’ve been isolating will not spread the virus. Finally, there have been no reported outbreaks in schools anywhere in the world, including those that have stayed open during the pandemic. The bigger risk is staying shut till September and let the virus circulate when there is less sunlight and heat which most viruses like this don’t do well in. So might as well go now to reduce the risk on people.

    While we must have some measures in place to protect health but these tests above will do nothing. Government could have been held to account here on a bad job but sadly this has missed the mark badly. Please labour, please do better, as that’s what the country needs. Most of all if putting out statements on public health, get people who understand it to write them, rather than local politicians looking to make a point.

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