The Council’s published data – up to 27 December – shows that the rate of Covid infection in Brighton & Hove has increased by more than 500 per cent since we came out of lockdown at the beginning of December. It is currently 388 per 100,000.
Early indications are that this sharp increase is continuing and we will approach rates of approximately 500 per 100,000 in the next few days. This rapid increase is mirrored in the rates in our children and young people. The city’s all ages pattern is similar to that previously seen in urban areas of Kent and East Sussex.
In view of warnings from eminent scientists of an ‘imminent catastrophe’ unless the whole of the UK is locked down, and given the significant rise in COVID infections caused by the new variant, we are extremely concerned about the increased risk to life and the unprecedented pressure on the NHS.
In this context, Labour have urged the City’s Green Administration to advise primary schools not to open on 4th January. Schools should remain closed until a safer environment can be created and until the risks to children, families and staff can be effectively contained. The closure should apply to all children, apart from children of key workers and those recognised as the most vulnerable.
A longer period of online working for all school and college students could help suppress virus levels and buy time both for the roll out of the vaccine and to put in place measures that can keep schools safer.
We have 65 fantastic schools in Brighton and Hove and we are all very proud of the hard work their staff have put in during an extremely challenging and extended time. We realise how vital schools are for education, mental health and wellbeing, and safeguarding. However, the situation that we face is unparalleled, and the lives of children and staff and the wider community including parents, grandparents and carers remains our utmost priority.
Cllr John Allcock – Labour’s Opposition Spokesperson for Children and Young People and Skills Committee said ‘I am relieved to see that the Council has listened to what the parents, teachers and other school staff, unions including the NEU and GMB, and the Labour Group have to say and today advised that primary schools should move to remote learning until Monday 18 January’. Schools will remain open for children of key workers and vulnerable children.