Primary school sign post. Source: Flickr - Primary school sign post. Source: Flickr -

This model letter can be adapted and used to lobby the local authority in your area to put pressure on them not to open the schools until they are safe

Dear [Name],

I write to you as a [parent/teacher/ concerned member of the public] from [area] about the anticipated re-opening of schools in [town/city] on 1st June. I am deeply concerned that it is not yet safe for children and school staff to return.

In proposing the phased return of primary pupils from 1st June onwards, the government has put forward a reckless timetable.

I believe the wider opening of schools should only go ahead when we are certain it is safe to do so. It is unconscionable to shift the responsibility for safety in schools and the wider community onto individual headteachers without a safe national framework.

The government has demonstrated a lack of understanding around the dangers of the spread of Covid-19 from schools to the family home and from the family home to relatives and carers, and consequently the dangers of transmission to the wider community. We do not yet know enough about whether children can transmit the disease to adults. The reports of a Kawasaki-like disease already linked to 100 cases in the U.K have caused great alarm to parents. The heartbreaking death of 8-month-old Alexander Parsons has sent shock waves across the nation. The death of one child alone is one too many.

Giving evidence to the Science and Technology Committee this week, the Department for Education’s Chief Scientific Adviser admitted the Government’s plan could risk spreading coronavirus since there is a “low degree of confidence” that children transmit the virus less than adults. It is simply impossible to apply social distancing to small children, who want to touch, play, and hug. It is cruel to try to separate them, to tell them they may not touch each other, to take away their soft toys, and to not pick them up and comfort them when they fall.

I agree with the National Education Union’s #FiveTests. I agree there should be full disclosure of the advice relating to the re-opening of schools whether it is from SAGE, the schools subdivision, some other combination of its members or from Public Health England (as suggested by the DfE’s Chief Scientific Adviser in his evidence) with any underlying scientific evidence, data or modelling on which that advice is based.

It makes little sense for children to return before September. It would be far better to work collaboratively towards the implementation of safe conditions that would permit a safe ‘wider opening.’ This should be the objective rather than a fixed date. This is what other countries including Scotland and Wales are doing.

Public authorities have a duty to protect children and teachers and to support teaching staff. I would, therefore, ask [area] Council to follow the example of Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson in refusing to re-open schools until it is safe to do so and the National Education Union’s #FiveTests have been met.

I would also be interested to hear your thoughts in response to the concerns I have raised.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

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Kara Bryan

Kara Bryan is a writer and activist and regular contributor to the Counterfire website. She is a member of Counterfire and Stop the War