The safety of pupils, school staff and the wider community is paramount to the reopening of South Yorkshire’s schools. Schools should only re-open when robust safety measures are in place and fully enforced.
In order to guarantee the safety of pupils and staff, the Government must: ensure that an effective track-and-trace system is in place; publish accurate data at a regional and local level; give local authorities and headteachers the flexibility to respond to local circumstances; provide whatever additional funding is needed to keep pupils and staff safe; and work with schools, trade unions and parents to ensure greater public confidence before schools reopen.
I fully appreciate that the prolonged closure of schools is having a profound impact on pupils and parents and carers alike, which is especially damaging to children from poorer backgrounds. That’s why I am working with local schools, colleges, trade unions and third sector organisations to close the ‘digital divide’ and improve access to remote learning for students in South Yorkshire. However, guaranteeing the safety of pupils and staff and preventing our schools from becoming future hotspots of infection must be the number one priority.