Southwark schools are not being asked to close their doors early even as other London boroughs make the move.
Southwark Council’s boss, Cllr Kieron Williams, told the News that he did not think it was the right move to ask the borough’s schools to close their doors early.
Greenwich, Islington and Waltham Forest, have already called for their schools to switch to online learning, and Mayor Sadiq Khan has also asked ministers to “err on the side of caution” and order lessons to be online.
But council boss Williams told the News: “We’re not calling for schools in Southwark to close.
“These are difficult decisions. But looking through the evidence, having spoken to our local schools – we think at the moment the right thing to do is to keep children in school until the end of this week.”
This is when schoolchildren are due to be off-school for the Christmas break, although some schools are taking an INSET day on Friday.
However, the council is leaving the door open for that decision to be overturned, with Cllr Williams adding: “But we’re keeping that under constant review with teachers, parents and the government as well.”
Officials also say that if there were an outbreak in a school meaning it needed to switch to online provision, it would be supported by the council in doing so.
Cllr Williams conceded that there could be a benefit in potential decreased transmission from early school closure, but said the council had come to the conclusion the benefits of in-person education to children’s well-being outweigh the risks.
One Southwark school boss told the News he would be happy for his school to continue in-person.
“From my point of view, we’re happy to follow the direction of the local authority and the Department for Education,” he said.
“We understand different boroughs are in different circumstances with different R rates, but there’s no one size fits all
“We think the right thing to do is to try and maintain as much normality as we can until the end of term.”
Greenwich Council made the right decision to close schools at the end of today. A few days of lost schooling is not nothing, but it’s a price worth paying to keep our community safe over Christmas.
We can’t have kids meeting their grans, infected with a deadly virus!
— James McAsh (@mcash) December 14, 2020
Some, however, have praised other council’s decisions to try and move to online teaching. Backbench Southwark Labour councillor, Cllr McAsh, praised Greenwich’s decision to ask its schools to close.
“A few days of lost schooling is not nothing, but it’s a price worth paying to keep our community safe over Christmas,” said Cllr McAsh, who is also a teacher and rep for the NEU teachers’ union.
“We can’t have kids meeting their grans, infected with a deadly virus!”