The Medway Labour and Co-operative Group have this week written to the Regional Schools Commissioner for the South East to raise concerns regarding the impact of rising Covid-19 rates on schools in Medway.
The letter, written by the group’s Children’s Services Spokesperson Councillor Clive Johnson, called for a clear plan to mitigate the system-wide pressures of rising infection rates.
At present, all secondary schools and a third of primary schools in Medway have had positive Covid 19 cases in their pupil or staff population. This comes as neighbouring authority Swale is confirmed to have the highest coronavirus infection rate in England at 631.7 cases per 100,000. Many pupils live in Swale but attend Medway schools, and most of Swale falls under Medway Maritime Hospital’s catchment area.
Cllr Clive Johnson, Medway Labour and Co-operative Group’s Spokesperson for Children and Young People said that, ‘The hard work of our schools and teachers in order to stay open cannot be overstated, and we should be extremely proud of how our educational community has risen to these unprecedented challenges.
‘Despite this hard work to maintain standards, as more students and teachers test positive and increasingly substantial numbers are unable to attend school, it raises questions if schools are in a position to deliver effective education in these circumstances.
‘This is an educational issue but one with clear public health consequences. Medway Maritime Hospital is evidently under significant strain, and minimising transmission to the wider community via schools is an important aspect of this.
‘There is understandably concern amongst parents regarding the safety of their children, but also the worry of greater transmission. We remain committed to supporting our schools in the delivery of safe education and look forward to the Schools Commissioner’s response.’
Cllr Vince Maple, Leader of the Medway Labour and Co-operative Group added that, ‘Our schools have adapted to a considerable amount of disruption this year and continued to thrive under the circumstances. However, the prevalence of positive cases within staff and pupil communities raises some serious questions regarding how sustainable it is for schools to continue to run under such circumstances.
‘A clear plan to mitigate the system-wide pressures of rising rates of infection is needed in order to avoid the possibility of further and potentially more drastic lockdowns.’
You can read the full letter below: