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The schools that will stay closed from tomorrow

A number of Kent primary schools will remain closed tomorrow, defying government advice.

Ignoring the Prime Minister's claim that 'schools are safe', some headteachers have decided to keep the majority of pupils home despite being expected back in the morning for the start of term.

Hampton Primary School. Picture: Barry Duffield
Hampton Primary School. Picture: Barry Duffield

It comes as 11 districts across the county were included in a nationwide list of areas with coronavirus infection rates too high to reopen primary schools.

The affected areas are Dartford, Gravesham, Sevenoaks, Medway, Ashford, Maidstone, Tonbridge and Malling, Tunbridge Wells, Swale, Bexley and Bromley.

But schools in Thanet, Dover, Folkestone and Hythe and Canterbury districts were all allowed to re-open.

But now, some leaders in those areas have chosen to stay closed to all except for key worker and vulnerable children.

Hampton Primary in Herne Bay is one such school.

Hampton Primary School head Yvonne Nunn. Picture: Paul Amos
Hampton Primary School head Yvonne Nunn. Picture: Paul Amos

In a letter to parents, headteacher Yvonne Nunn said: "Based on the risks assessed for a full opening and staffing capacity, the very difficult decision has been made that from tomorrow, Monday, January 4, Hampton will be open for critical key worker and vulnerable children only.

"All other children will be provided with remote learning. This will be reviewed every two weeks.

"Please be assured this decision has not been taken lightly as we completely recognise the importance of every child being in school, we also however recognise the seriousness of the pandemic and the very real threat it is posing to our long-term health and well-being.

"I understand that with such short notice this may cause problems for some families and I am sorry for this disruption however, every decision made is based on the health and safety of everyone in our Hampton community."

Castle Hill Community Primary in Folkestone will also remain closed.

Headteacher Pete Talbot, of Castle Hill Primary School. Picture: Gary Browne
Headteacher Pete Talbot, of Castle Hill Primary School. Picture: Gary Browne

A statement from headteacher Pete Talbot to parents reads: "I was desperately hoping not to write this letter to you.

"As you know I hate closing the school and I am extremely worried how much education that the children have missed so far.

"However, following further advice and with the concerns around Covid-19 still very much at the front of our minds the school will not reopen to all children on Tuesday, January 5 2021.

"We will remain open for children of key workers and any vulnerable children, who are currently supported by additional services.

"This will be reviewed on a weekly basis and I will continue to keep you fully updated."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said schools are safe. Picture: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said schools are safe. Picture: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

Dame Janet Primary in Ramsgate has delayed its opening until Thursday.

A letter to parents reads: "At the direction of the Kemnal Academies Trust, Monday, January 4 will now be an INSET day and our school will be closed to all children.

"On Tuesday, January 5 and Wednesday, January 6 school will now be open to vulnerable children and children from key worker families only.

"All other children will be taught via remote learning.

"We intend to open our school to all children from Thursday, January 7, but this is subject to any changes to national guidance. We will of course let you know of any changes as soon as we know."

Aycliffe Community Primary School in Dover has also confirmed a partial closure. A statement reads: From Monday, there is insufficient teaching staff to deliver quality in-school education and therefore Aycliffe will be closed to all pupils except vulnerable pupils and pupils from key worker families.

"I am currently unable to inform you of how long this situation will continue for, but I will keep you updated."

KCC leader Roger Gough
KCC leader Roger Gough

Warden House Primary in Deal is open for the children of key workers as a "last resort".

A statement on the school's website said: "Warden House Primary School will remain closed to all year groups and will not reopen normally for the start of Term 3. This is due to not having enough staff available to be able to safely run our classes due to ongoing concerns caused by the Covid pandemic.

"Please note that we will remain open to provide provision for the children of Key Workers and for those children who are considered vulnerable (in possession of an Education Health Care Plan or with a named social worker). Please note that this provision may not be provided by your child’s normal class teacher or TA."

Such children must be pre-registered by filling in a form here.

St Gregory’s Catholic Primary School in Margate have delayed opening until next week. A statement reads: "We have reviewed our risk assessment and unfortunately, due to staff who are currently needing to self-isolate, we do not feel confident that we would be able to open and ensure the health and safety of our school community.

"As such we have made the difficult decision to not open the building to children until Monday, January 11, should all our staff be well and able to be on-site.

"We realise this will be disappointing news for many of you but hope you appreciate that we are working extremely hard to ensure that school is a safe place for our children and staff to be."

The National Association of Head Teachers is now starting legal action against the government in a bid to force ministers to reveal why they think it is safe for schools to reopen.

The union says it has "commenced preliminary steps in legal proceedings against the Department for Education" and is calling upon the government to "remove people in schools from the physical harm caused by the current progress of the disease".

The leader of Kent County Council has also called on the government to keep schools closed in Thanet, Canterbury, Dover and Folkestone and Hythe.

Cllr Roger Gough (Con) wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson yesterday, urging him to allow primary schools to remain shut.

He said: "Yet most schools in Kent will under government rules have a delayed start; the public health justification for treating 4 districts (with still high infection rates) differently does not stack up."

It contradicts Boris Johnson's message that schools remain safe. Speaking on the Andrew Marr show on BBC One this morning, he said: "Schools are safe.

"The risk to young people is very, very small indeed. The risk to staff is very small."

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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