Cllr Neghat Khan, Portfolio Holder for Early Years, Education and Employment in Nottingham:
“Nottingham City Council knows how important education is for children in our city and the council will support the wider reopening of schools as soon as it is safe to do so.
“But the safety of children, their families and school staff must be our priority and we are not yet convinced it is safe to open more widely on 1 June. We do not yet believe that the National Education Union’s five tests have been sufficiently met by the government.
“In light of this, Nottingham City Council supports a phased and gradual reinstatement of children, starting with pupils in Year 6 based, on the comprehensive risk assessments undertaken by head teachers and governing bodies that address the five tests set out by the NEU.
“We know that the majority of Nottingham schools have remained open throughout lockdown for the children of our critical workers and those children who are vulnerable or have additional needs. We are grateful to school staff for this commitment. It is vital that our pupils and staff are safe – and that our parents are confident that all steps are being taken to minimise the risk and ensure their children’s safety is paramount. We know that no one places a higher priority on this than our schools and nurseries.
“In the meantime, we will continue to work with head teachers, governing bodies and trade unions to establish the plans for schools further opening subject to comprehensive and rigorous risk assessments.
“However, Nottingham City Council is clear that we must not rush this process.”
National Education Union’s 5 tests:
Test 1: Much lower numbers of Covid-19 cases. The new case count must be much lower than it is now, with a sustained downward trend and confidence that new cases are known and counted promptly. And the Government must have extensive arrangements for testing and contact tracing to keep it that way.
Test 2: A national plan for social distancing. The Government must have a national plan including parameters for both appropriate physical distancing and levels of social mixing in schools, as well as for appropriate PPE, which will be locally negotiated at school-by-school and local authority level.
Test 3: Testing, testing, testing. Comprehensive access to regular testing for children and staff to ensure our schools and colleges don’t become hot spots for Covid-19.
Test 4: Whole school strategy. Protocols to be put in place to test a whole school or college when a case occurs and for isolation to be strictly followed.
Test 5: Protection for the vulnerable. Vulnerable staff, and staff who live with vulnerable people, must work from home, fulfilling their professional duties to the extent that is possible. Plans must be specifically address the protection of vulnerable parents, grandparents and carers.