November 17, 2020 11.00 am This story is over 42 months old

Union calls for schools to close but health bosses still disagree

Over 90 schools and 10 nurseries have COVID-19 cases

A Lincolnshire teaching union says schools should close until the new year to curb the coronavirus pandemic, but local health bosses disagree.

Chris Thompson, president of the Lincolnshire branch of the National Education Union, said teachers were starting to get overwhelmed by the pressure. The county currently has more than 90 schools and 10 nurseries affected by coronavirus, with at least seven temporarily closed.

Mr Thompson said: “They’re struggling with the work load, they’re struggling with the level of anxiety. Many teachers are feeling they worked solidly since March, the stresses and strains are beginning to show.”

But assistant director of public health at Lincolnshire County Council Tony McGinty said the county was “doing really quite a good job” at isolating students and staff.

He said there was a balance between the loss of education and risk to workforces due to school children being off, and the impact of COVID-19 on teachers and students.

“I think for Lincolnshire still the balance is in favour of keeping schools open and the reason I say that is because I think education is really important, and the ability of parents to go out to work is also really important for all of us,” he said.

However, he added: “I completely understand why teachers would be worried about this and are wondering about that benefit versus risk analysis, and what I would say is that the vast majority schools now have got really good plans for keeping everybody safe.

“It’s really important that you maintain that as much as you can.”

He said the schools and health bosses were isolating pupils without needing to close schools down.

“What we’re finding is we’re able to send a bubble or a year group, or a football team off into isolation and away from school for a period of time rather than sending the whole school, off and that seems to be working where we’re seeing that that’s stopping ongoing spread inside schools that have had cases.”

He said the half-term holiday saw numbers “dip off” a bit, but there is now so much general community infection that it “did not hold for long”.