Redbridge Council to support schools that choose to close over high Covid-19 absences

S5 and S6 pupils at St Columba's High School in Gourock, Inverclyde, wear protective face masks duri

Redbridge Council said it will support schools that decide to switch to online learning as a result of large staff and pupil absences from Covid-19 cases. - Credit: PA

Redbridge Council's Education Service wrote to all schools in the borough on Monday, December 14 giving them support if they choose to close from Wednesday because staff and pupil absence mean they are unable to stay open.

The decision over closure rests with the school or the Department of Education.

The council said it believes that schools should now consider whether they can remain open for all pupils or move to remote learning if absences are high enough.

Provision for vulnerable children and the children of key workers will be an exception even if the schools decide to stop in-person learning temporarily.

Following a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases across Redbridge some schools have faced growing issues with teaching capacity and increasing numbers of children having to isolate and this has put a huge strain on schools.

The current infection rate in Redbridge is 507 per 100,000 as of cases through December 12.

Council leader Jas Athwal said: "Throughout the pandemic, our council has worked closely with school staff, teachers, parents, and teaching unions. Our one goal has been to keep students and staff as safe as possible while minimising disruption to essential teaching.

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"Unfortunately, cases of Covid-19 continue to rise across the borough, and as a result, some of our schools are struggling to continue to provide the high-quality in-person teaching our children deserve.

"It is not the role of the council to close schools, but today we want to be absolutely clear – we will support our local schools if they choose to move to online learning."

At this time a decision has not been made to uniformly close all schools across Redbridge and the council does not have the authority to do so.

However if schools are unable to continue to provide in-person lessons due to staff capacity issues, the council has said it would support them to move to online learning.

Cllr Athwal added: "I want all our school staff and teachers to know that our council will stand with them, now and always."

For information about whether a particular school will remain open or switch to online learning you should contact the school directly for more information.