Five Sheffield MPs have warned against the government’s plan to reopen schools for 1 June without a robust ‘test, track and trace’ system.
In a statement last week, Sheffield MPs criticised the government for using the plight of vulnerable children who are at risk at home as justification for reopening schools early.
The statement said: “We are not in fact faced with a binary choice between education and safety.
“The government could be doing so much more to both protect vulnerable children, ensure that all pupils receive full education even with partial school closures and make adequate preparation for eventual re-openings.”
The government has faced criticism for a lack of certainty on supplying schools with satisfactory PPE and implementing a functional ‘test, track and trace’ system before 1 June.
Clive Betts, MP for South East Sheffield, said: “The government abandoned it [the test, track and trace system] in March when countries like Germany and other European countries that have used it have done extraordinarily well in controlling this virus.”
“We are now well behind other countries in developing these systems and we are still flouncing around, trying to develop an untested app.”
The Sheffield Trades Union wrote an open letter urging Sheffield council to wait to reopen schools until a ‘test, track and trace’ system is firmly in place, and four other protective standards set out by the National Education Union have been met.
The letter came after a statement from Sheffield Cllr Abtisam Mohamed, council Cabinet member for Education and Skills, suggested schools must carry out their own risk assessment for reopening.
Martin Mayer, secretary for Sheffield TUC said: “Leaving it to the schools to do their own risk assessment is what we think is passing the buck.”
“It’s not really up to the individual school to do a risk assessment on its premises and its procedures because at least two of the five tests the NEU are suggesting are national issues.”
The Sheffield Trades Council urged officials to follow the lead of other big authorities like Liverpool and Birmingham that have declared that schools will not open in their areas until safe to do so.
My Mayer said the government’s plan to reopen schools in June for reception and year one appeared to be a decision for the benefit of the economy.
He said: “It just smacks in our face that this isn’t about helping kids with their education it’s about taking kids off their parents’ hands so they can go to work.”
Sheffield Council cabinet are scheduled for a meeting tonight on their approach to the reopening of schools in June.