Primary schools in Camden to remain closed for first two weeks of term
All primary schools in London will now remain closed after the Christmas break after concerns were raised by nine local authorities - including Camden - about rising Covid-19 transmission rates and the government’s method for assessing which boroughs should close schools. Remote learning will continue for children in Camden who are not in school.
The nine authorities were, up until today, being asked by government to open primaries whilst many other boroughs remained closed. This position was challenged urgently by Camden Council Leader Georgia Gould and other leaders across London.
I am pleased the Government have acknowledged the value of local knowledge and local schools leadership and included all London Boroughs within the contingency framework. This means primary schools across London will close from the 4th to the 18th January. I recognise this decision has a huge impact for students, parents, teachers and communities – calling for the closure of schools is not something we would ever do lightly, but rising infection rates mean that the situation is now critical.
It is essential, for the sake of our children’s education and for public health, that there is a clear and consistent rationale for the closure and opening of our schools, based on public health advice. Rising infection rates across London and Camden, and the impact on NHS capacity, has caused anxiety for students, schools, parents and communities. This is why we worked with leaders across the City to challenge the Government decision to not include some London Boroughs.
Now that the government have rectified this situation all Camden primary schools will close for in-person learning from 4th to 18th January, except for children of key workers and vulnerable children.
Camden schools have worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic to keep schools open for vulnerable children and those of key workers, to keep children learning and to provide a safe environment for all students. Our view is that given the current infection rates and the risk posed by the new variant of increased transmission, is that it would not be safe for students or parents to open schools on Monday 4th January and I am pleased that Government have agreed with us. I recognise that for many parents and children this will be deeply disappointing, and I want to reiterate my commitment to keeping children in school as far as possible where it is safe to do so.
Whilst schools are closed for in-person learning the Council will continue to do the following:
- Work with Camden Learning and our Camden family of schools to support the roll out of lateral flow testing in schools for teachers and pupils, beginning with secondary schools but working with primaries;
- Continuing to press Government for support for schools and students, particularly those in critical exam years, for access to digital devices to support remote learning;
- Argue for prioritisation for schools staff in accessing the Covid vaccination given their critical frontline role in our communities and in delivering vital education to our young people.