Allowing Hertfordshire schools to choose to close could lead to ‘chaos’, says cllr

There have been calls to allow Hertfordshire schools to operate a mix of online and face-to-face teaching

Thursday, 17th December 2020, 4:42 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th December 2020, 4:46 pm

Allowing schools to close – unless directed to do so by public health bosses – could lead to “a level of chaos”, a leading councillor has warned.

In a bid to limit the spread of Covid-19, there have already been some calls to allow Hertfordshire schools to operate a mix of online and face-to-face teaching.

But at a meeting of the county council on Tuesday, December 15, executive member for education libraries and localism Cllr Terry Douris said that schools should continue to operate in line with government policy.

School stock image

And he suggested that failure to do so could lead to ‘ a level of chaos’.

“The government has set out a clear and unequivocal strategy that all schools should remain open,” he said, in response to a question from Liberal Democrat Cllr Nigel Quinton.

“If we allow schools – or indeed any other body – to take their own independent advice or situation and not undertake what has been set out clearly by the government, then I think we would start to run in to a level of chaos.”

At the meeting Cllr Douris did report that there were currently seven schools in the county that were closed, as a result of infection levels or lack of teaching staff and following advice from public health officials.

“So there are some schools which will have to close and they will remain closed,” he said.

“But that’s not a unilateral decision by the individual school – that’s a decision taken on the best advice of the Public Health England people.”

And in response to a further question by Labour Cllr Judi Billing, he said: “The fact is we need to have children in school – that is the best place for them.

“And not only that, schools are actually inherently safe places to be.

“We have heard an awful lot about the transmission of the virus and schoolchildren. But a great deal of that actually is transmitted outside school.”

Cllr Billing pointed to a school were she said infection rates were so high that she suggested it was ‘not safe at all’.

And she asked Cllr Douris at what point would they decide to drop the mantra that ‘ school is the safest place for children to be’.

But Cllr Douris continued to stress that schools were safe places for children to be – and the best places for them to learn.

And he said that headteachers could work with public health officials and infection control nurses to take the appropriate decisions.