Labour want the government to succeed. We want to support the government to get this right.
We support a gradual easing of restrictions. However, this needs to be done as safely as possible, following the science and done at the right time. Any decisions to ease restrictions must respond the facts on the ground.
To achieve this, we need three things.
First, the government should publish the evidence behind the decisions it has taken. Second, we need to see a track, trace and isolate system that works. Third, the government’s strategy must be flexible and able to quickly adapt to changing circumstances.
We need a national consensus to build public confidence in this plan.
And Labour will continue to work constructively with the government on these proposals to ensure we have the best possible response to this crisis.
Returning to school is a priority for the sake of pupils’ education and wellbeing, however schools should only open when it is safe to do so. Today’s announcement further fails to provide the assurances parents, school staff, and pupils were looking for.
Repeatedly, the Government have been asked to set up a taskforce of education unions, parents organisations and health experts to agree upon a series of practical safety measures that must be met before any date for reopening was confirmed.
It is vital that the Government carries the confidence of trade unions, school staff and parents and we urge them to work much more closely with to ensure those safety concerns are addressed.
Revelations in recent days have already damaged public trust, if they fail to get this vital issue right they risk losing public trust completely.
Latest development: SAGE publication of guidance for wider reopening schools.
It is in the interests of all those who will be affected by the wider opening of schools for the government to be transparent about the advice on which it is acting and to act upon the concerns raised by parents, school staff and teaching unions.
Certainly on first reading the advice does not appear to provide the clear assurances regarding safety many school staff and parents were hoping for, stating that there is a high degree of uncertainty as to the susceptibility and infectivity of children.
It also confirms that there will need to be clear communication to teachers and parents and that messages should be developed in partnership with teachers, parents, and students which sadly has not been the case in Government actions so far.
Labour is calling for the government to urgently convene a taskforce of education unions, parents organisations and health experts to review this advice, agree upon a series of practical safety conditions that must be met within schools before the Government confirms a date for wider reopening and to confirm that test, track and trace will be fully operational.