New Year’s resolutions are’moving us toward school closures’ in the UK, warns Education Committee head

New Year’s resolutions are’moving us toward school closures’ in the UK, warns Education Committee head

The UK faces school closures in the new year if Covid is not stopped from isolating large sections of the teaching workforce, the Education Committee chair has warned.

Robert Halfon warned MPs the government should prepare a "army" of substitute teachers in case the new Omicron form of coronavirus forces school closures.

The UK Health Security Agency says there are already hundreds of thousands of cases, and that it is growing at a "staggering" rate, doubling every two days.

He called on the government to prepare schools for what is expected to be a massive wave of Omicron.

"Not for education, but for an army of NHS volunteers.

"Why isn't a similar army of retired teachers or Ofsted inspectors hired to support struggling schools?" he wondered.

"Can't we have the same vision, enthusiasm, and resources for education as we have for the NHS?"
"The administration is throwing everything at it to make sure that before school starts, all adults have had their booster," said Education Minister Alex Burghart.

This is how we maximise our chances of ensuring that our children receive the world-class education they deserve.

"On-site lateral flow testing on return for secondary school pupils, continuous regular testing at home for the education and childcare sectors, and a thorough contingency system to control outbreaks," the minister stated.

Labour urged on the government to go even further and offer every 12- to 15-year-old a coronavirus vaccine before Christmas.

"We cannot afford any more interruption to children's education," said a party spokesperson. "We must ensure schools are safe and open for learners to continue studying together."

Secondary school students can now get two doses of the Covid vaccine, up from one, and anyone over 18 can get a booster three months after the second dose.
Since Boris Johnson warned about the Omicron variant on Sunday, the movement to offer all adults a booster vaccine before the new year has soared.

On Tuesday, the UK recorded a record 656,711 booster and third doses of Covid-19 vaccination.

On Wednesday, the UK recorded its greatest daily number of lab-confirmed Covid cases, illustrating Omicron's rapid spread.

On Wednesday, 78,610 cases were reported, over 10,000 more than the previous high of 68,053 on January 8, 2021.

But parents are warned not to pull their kids out of school this term.

"The greatest location for children - who have in many ways suffered the most through this pandemic - is in school, receiving crucial face-to-face education," stated the prime minister's official spokesperson.

« It is vital that schools and parents do not take precautionary measures to deny their children an education.
Secondary schools will be granted "some flexibility" on when they return after Christmas, according to Education Minister Burghart.

"The government is dedicated to ensuring schools open as normal in January," he stated ".

In his words, "We propose that all secondary school students be tested at the start of next term, and we allow some flexibility in the time schools can return to ensure that this testing can take place.

"We are providing additional cash to ensure this testing. I can guarantee the House that schools have and will continue to have all testing facilities."

Geoff Barton, ASL general secretary, said: "No school or parent needs lectures from Downing Street.

"Everyone is doing their best to keep education continuing despite increasingly tough circumstances and unhelpful rumours.

"We agree that school is the ideal location for kids, but we are also aware that illnesses are rampant in many settings and areas, wreaking havoc.

"Christmas is coming up fast, and I'd like to avoid any more finger-wagging."

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