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Monday, December 6, 2021

Schools impose Covid ‘circuit breakers’ that parents fear are precursor to full closures

Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio, in Darwen, Lancashire has also announced it would close its doors until December 2.

The school, which caters for pupils aged 13 to 19, said it was a “difficult decision” to move to online learning. Colin Grand, the school’s headteacher, said in a letter to parents: “Over the weekend we have received a number of positive cases in our student and staff community. I have today met with Public Health England and discussed the situation with an outbreak response team.

“In light of the number of cases and the advice given we have made the difficult decision to close the school and move to remote online lessons until Thursday 2 December.”

He said: “In conjunction with PHE, the DfE and Covid guidelines we have taken the difficult decision to build in a short circuit break and move towards remote learning.”

Mr Grand added that the re-opening date will be reviewed and could change depending on positive cases in the staff community over the next 48 hours.

Current guidance from the DfE states that in “extreme cases, and as a last resort where all other risk mitigations have not broken chains of in-school transmission”, a director of public health “may advise introducing short-term attendance restrictions”. It says that this could include “sending home a class or year group”.

Former ministers have called for a school triple lock to be introduced to prevent the Government being able to shut down classrooms again.

A new Bill championed by Robert Halfon, the Tory chairman of the education select committee, says that any decision to close schools must pass three tests in the future.

The MP for Harlow said closures during the coronavirus pandemic “wielded a hammer blow for students’ education and wellbeing”.

Mr Halfon’s Ten Minute Rule Bill, which is backed by a dozen MPs including by two former education ministers, seeks to redefine schools as “essential infrastructure” to ensure they remain open during any future public health or national emergencies.

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