Top Tory says schools should ‘let nurseries play’ despite Covid fears

Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said “people should be able to get together” at Christmas and schools should allow festive celebrations

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Grant Shapps says nurseries “should play”

A senior conservative has said school nurseries should ‘play’ this Christmas despite growing fears of Covid.

Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps insisted people should be able to get together this Christmas – and said festive celebrations in schools should be allowed.

It comes as some schools have banned parents from attending nursery plays or festive celebrations in person due to concerns about the virus.

The emergence of a disturbing new variant in South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel has alarmed experts, with flights suspended from six countries in southern Africa.

No cases have been detected in the UK so far, but UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) boss Dr Susan Hopkins said the strain may already be there.

When asked if schools should be allowed to stage nurseries, Mr Shapps told LBC: “Let the nurseries play, that’s my point of view.

“We haven’t had two, now three vaccinations and everything in order to live last Christmas again when we haven’t been able to come together like we should have, in the number that we should have done, with our friends and families.



Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“So of course steps will be taken without a doubt to make them as safe as possible, ventilation and the like. Yes, people should be able to meet.”

Schools Minister Robin Walker said year-end performances and nursery plays were an “important tradition” as he urged teachers to allow them to move forward in person.

He told PA, “I want to see schools continue to engage with parents in the most constructive way possible.

“Of course, where they can safely move forward, things like nurseries and end of term shows are really important and a good way to do that. I would like to see as many of them as possible.”

When asked if it is wrong for schools to suppress in-person festive events, Mr Walker said: “I think this is where these important traditions can be maintained that they are.”

But he added: “Of course I understand that there will be schools that think they need to take extra precautions and especially when it comes to adults entering a school and that they need to take extra care. be able to examine their local situation.

“They need to be able to work with the local public health directors who will have a sense of the local situation. And I respect the fact that it’s going to be different in different parts of the country.”

James Bowen, NAHT Policy Director, said: “School nurseries are a special occasion for students, parents and staff. There is nothing schools want more than to have a room full of families enjoying the children who put on their party show.

However, schools have so much to balance when deciding what to do this year. They are faced with various councils from their local authorities, councils from central government and a wide range of opinions from parents – they are really caught between a rock and a hard place.

“Schools will listen carefully to the advice given by public health teams and local authorities and take appropriate action based on that advice. “

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said Christmas activities are an important part of school life, but Covid issues remain.

“Leaders, however, will be realistic about the significant challenges they continue to face in dealing with the disruption to normal school life caused by the coronavirus and will try to be flexible in managing the risks presented by bringing family members into the school environment to attend performances, ”he said.

“They will also be aware of the challenges of having more staff absent than normal.

“Some may reluctantly decide to cancel shows, but the technology that played such a vital role in education during the pandemic also offers schools the opportunity to stage virtual performances.

“While this is not a substitute for watching young people perform in person, it does mean that the show can continue in many schools.”

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