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With Richard Spong

Ilford North MP wants ‘plan for reopening schools, not a date’

 Labour’s shadow minister for schools, Wes Streeting MP

The MP for Ilford North wants ‘a plan for reopening schools, not a date.’

Labour’s shadow minister for schools, Wes Streeting has expressed concerns as ten of the UK’s most senior doctors say depression among children is at ‘frightening levels’ and parents are on ‘the brink of a breakdown.’

Experts say the coronavirus lockdown alongside the pressure of home-schooling is inflicting ‘serious damage’ on wellbeing.

The doctors have written in the Times, to call for teachers to be prioritised for a vaccine.

Yesterday, The Prime Minister said England’s schools will reopen “as fast as possible”, although he can’t guarantee pupils will be back by Easter.

Speaking to Sky, Wes Streeting said: “It’s really difficult for parents who are juggling trying to work themselves with keeping their kids educated from home. It’s not easy.

“I think people do want some certainty and I think we all understand that for the government to provide a specific date now would be very difficult because to a large extent they’re hostages to watching the spread of the virus.

“But that doesn’t mean that the government can’t be acting now to make schools as safe as possible as soon as possible.

“What concerns us is that at the moment we don’t understand clearly what criteria of the government would use to determine when it’s safe for all pupils to return to school.

“Secondly, we don’t see any sign of a plan to make schools as safe as possible with testing and other safety measures, like having staff on the priority list for a vaccine.

“And thirdly, yesterday the government seemed to suggest on one hand that restrictions might ease mid-February but in the next breath was talking about schools not re-opening before Easter.

“We’re very clear about the fact that because of the damage that children not being at school is having on their education, their health, their well being and potentially their long term life chances, schools must be a priority.

“Everyone understands right now that it’s not possible for all children to be at school but they want to see government with a clear plan to make it as safe as possible as soon as possible.”

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