Hertford and Stortford Labour Party are backing the National Education Union’s call to close schools and move to online learning in order to protect children and education staff amidst rising infections.
Neighbouring Essex County Council have already made the decision to move to online learning, putting the lives of children and education staff first, safeguarding the NHS and protecting communities. Areas moved to online learning in Essex have significantly lower infection rates than in East Herts, yet Herts County Council insists that schools here should remain open.
“In order to stop the spread of the virus it’s clear that schools need to be shut.” Milly Lynch, Hertford and Stortford Labour’s Youth Officer, said. “The government should be planning exactly what it’s going to do to support those children most in need, particularly those without access to laptops.”
Tom Diamond, vice-chair of Hertford and Stortford Labour Party and a local primary school teacher, said, “The government’s plan to provide laptops for disadvantaged children doesn’t seem to have materialised. This needs to be a priority in order to support online learning and a system to support those students at risk of falling behind needs to be devised. Nobody wants to be a in a position where it is necessary to close schools, but the government’s catastrophic handling of the virus has unfortunately made it essential.“
The new, much more contagious strain of the Coronavirus now makes schools increasingly unsafe, whereas they had been deemed safe before Christmas. Hertford and Stortford Labour Party has emphasised that, with vaccines on the way, now is not the time to gamble with people’s lives.
Labour have also called on Julie Marson MP to take urgent action to support children, families and education staff in the community. Hertford and Stortford’s Tory MP has yet to make a public statement on the dramatic rise in COVID-19 infections or on the need to close schools and has not been active on social media since Christmas Day.
“Our local MP, Julie Marson, has been all too absent on this crucial issue,” Milly added. “Staff and health officials have made their stance on this matter clear. Rather than abdicating responsibility the priority for the government should now be delivering on the promises made to schools to deliver laptops and support online learning before they experience disruption. Our MP should be fighting for these resources on behalf of our community. Students need stability now, not in the months to come.”