Reports that schools may close early for Christmas due to the rise in the Omicron virus has prompted the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), to issue a statement regarding concerns that continue to grow about a shortage of teachers to cover classes.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union (NAHT), said: “NAHT members tell me that this has been the hardest term of the whole pandemic. They are determined to keep children in school but need support and co-operation more than ever before.
“Schools and families alike are nervous about the spread of the omicron variant, so close to Christmas, school leaders are also remembering the chaos and last minute government decisions that took place last year – this must not happen again.
“The few schools that have had to close have done so on the advice of public health teams. Some parents are choosing to keep their children off from school, as they are so concerned. Many schools are struggling with the levels of COVID-19 amongst both staff and pupils, which have shot up in the last week.
“Given how bad it’s got this term, the government needs to think very carefully about the mitigations it needs to take to keep schools open next term. As we wait for the vaccination programme to gather pace government needs to remove unnecessary burdens like inspection, assessment exercises and other procedures that do little to support schools at this difficult time.”
However, Downing Street has said schools should not be closing early for Christmas unless they have been told it is “necessary” on public health grounds. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman indicated that schools would be kept open unless there is an “absolute public health emergency”.