A petition on Parliament’s website is calling for a “two week school lockdown” from December 9 to ensure all students and school staffers can isolate ahead of the holidays. It comes as the Prime Minister announces a winter coronavirus plan for the UK, after lockdown restrictions lift from December 2. The UK recorded further 18,662 cases and 398 deaths from the virus yesterday.
At time of writing, the petition has 52,037 signatures, and needs 100,000 for the Government to debate it in the House of Commons.
The description for the petition reads: “Schools should move to online learning from 9 December so that all students and school staff have a chance to isolate for two weeks and then can safely meet older relatives.
“We need to be able to look forward to family celebrations at the end of a difficult year. There will be so many lonely grandparents if measures aren’t taken to allow households to mix safely.
“There will be many very risky meetings which could lead to unnecessary pressure on the NHS.”
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It comes after Focus Trust, a multi-academy primary school charitable body, announced all 15 of its schools will be closed a week early for Christmas.
The Government has been in talks with the trust in an effort to revert the decision, which would see the schools close on December 11th instead of December 18th.
Focus Trust’s chief executive Helen Rowland said: “We recognise the short notice may be an issue for some families but we hope that by taking the proactive and practical approach of extending the break, we can ensure that no one is forced to self-isolate over the holiday because of someone they have come into contact with at school.
“The time will be made up later in the school year when it is safe and practical to do so and families will be informed of the new dates as soon as possible.”
Three weeks ago Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, also told MPs teaching is not a “high risk” occupation in regards to coronavirus.
He said in a meeting for the Commons Science and Technology Committee: “On balance of risk, our view is firmly for children to be in school.
“In a sense, then the societal question – given the huge benefits to children – what are we actually, what is the right balance for society?
“That’s, in my view, fundamentally a political question, but the reality is, in our view, that the benefits to children are really clear.”
It comes as Mr Johnson announces new winter restrictions today as the UK leaves its second national lockdown.
The Prime Minister is expected to bring a return to the tier system seen before lockdown, with tougher restrictions for hospitality industries in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Lockdown restrictions will not be renewed after expiring on December 2, and the rule of six will be renewed.
In his opening comments, he added that “for the first time since this wretched virus took hold we can see a route out of the pandemic”.