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School closures: Teachers ‘so scared’ about heading back to work as they blast Johnson

Boris Johnson assures parents ‘schools are safe’ for children

Boris Johnson has defied pressure from teachers’ unions to keep all schools in England closed, insisting parents should send their children back to learning after the Christmas holidays. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the Prime Minister of presiding over “chaos” and insisted it was “inevitable” that more schools would need to shut.

Sarah, a teaching assistant at a school in Southampton, said she feels “so scared” about heading back into work.

She told The Independent: “I feel so frustrated because as a primary school TA working in early years, social distancing is non-existent in my classroom and I just don’t feel safe.

“I don’t think we should go back at all.

“We have vulnerable teachers at the school, and teachers who have vulnerable families, and it’s like the Government hasn’t even thought about that.”

A second person working in the teaching profession hit out at the Government’s policy.

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Vika, a secondary school teacher in Manchester, said she felt her workplace was “unsafe” due to a lack of ventilation and a shortage of PPE.

She said while missing out on education would impact children and young people “students and the communities’ lives have to come first”.

On Sunday, controversy continued to rage over whether more schools should be shut, following Gavin Williamson’s U-turn on the issue on Friday.

The Education Secretary announced that all schools in London would remain shut due to the rising number of coronavirus infections.

Speaking on Sunday afternoon, Sir Keir said: “Everybody wants children back in school. There is nobody that would argue with that.

“I don’t want to call for the closure of schools tomorrow morning and add to the chaos, but we do need to recognise that it is inevitable that more schools will close, and we need a plan in place to deal with it.

“But it can only be part of a wider strategy that has a national lockdown in place in the next 24 hours.

“The Prime Minister is hinting at it, but he’s not doing it. We can’t afford that delay again.

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“Let’s not have the Prime Minister saying ‘I’m going to do it, but not yet’, that’s the problem he has made so many times.

“Nationwide lockdown – the Prime Minister has hinted that that’s going to happen but he’s delaying again.”

In response to the comments, a Number 10 source said: “The Prime Minister has been consistently clear that we are driven by the need to protect the NHS and save lives – unlike 

Labour who have spent the last ten months playing party politics.

‘We have moved more areas into Tier 4 to bear down on the new variant and escalated other areas into Tier 3.

“This targeted approach is the right one, and is kept under review based on the latest data.”

Earlier, referring to the tiers system, Mr Johnson said that coronavirus restrictions in England are “probably about to get tougher” due to rising infection rates.

The Prime Minister told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that will be tougher in many parts of the country. I’m fully, fully reconciled to that.

“There are obviously a range of tougher measures that we would have to consider.”

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