Stagger pupils’ return after Christmas break, demand leftie unions – but Boris insists shutting schools is LAST resort
BONKERS teacher unions are demanding ministers stagger pupils' return to school after Christmas for fear of Omicron.
But Boris Johnson insists going back to remote learning is the nuclear option and will only be the course of last resort.
The PM's spokesman today said there were "no plans" to lump schools with any restrictions after the leftie NASUWT called for immediate Covid measures.
In a letter to Mr Zahawi about the Omicron variant, Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "I must urge you now to consider the immediate introduction of additional education measures to help slow the spread of Covid-19 and to minimise further disruption to education.
"In addition to wider community-level measures, we believe that additional measures will be required within schools and colleges now and as they return after the Christmas break."
Meanwhile Geoff Barton, head of the Association of School and College leaders, said schools may have to close temporarily due to the spread of Omicron.
He said: "This has already been happening during the course of this term and there could be more of this if the Omicron variant means that there is more disruption."
Yet Downing Street is adamant kids should continue having lessons in person and vows to pull out all the stops to prevent them going online again.
The PM's spokesman this afternoon reaffirmed that keeping schools open was a "national priority" and that they'd be among the last to close in any lockdown.
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He said: "There are certainly no plans to put any restrictions on schooling.
"We know how vital education has been, and how detrimental the pandemic has been towards children and young people who in many cases have borne the brunt of this.
"And that's why throughout we've always sought to keep face-to-face schooling open and have only restricted it when there's the direst public health emergency."
No10 also said schools shouldn't be breaking up for Christmas early – but that it was up to local health bosses.
Tory MP Tom Hunt, a member of the education select committee, told The Sun: “The pandemic has driven a coach and horses through kids’ learning – and throughout it's been the unions up on the saddle cracking the whip for more restrictions.
"It beggars belief they now want more measures once again and for the sake of pupils and their parents, the prime minister would do well to ignore them by keeping the schools open.”
This morning Health Secretary Sajid Javid refused to rule out schools closing in the New Year.
Millions of parents are longing for schools to stay open and worry about having to scramble to arrange child care.
Asked on LBC this morning if he could rule out schools shutting, Mr Javid said: "Well, I don't want to see that or any of these kinds of measures. I'm just going to focus on everything else we need to be doing, especially the booster programme."
He added: "I'd say this… if you are asking me for guarantees, I will just say – as the Health Secretary, of course, I'm not the Education Secretary – as the Health Secretary, that there are, when it comes to our fight against this pandemic, there are no guarantees."
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