Good government requires ministers and civil servants who pay meticulous attention to detail. Reopening Havering’s schools needs careful judgement not prejudiced, hand-wringing bluster. They were shut because of the government’s public health strategy in March, 2020. Public health is a government responsibility but health and safety in schools is devolved to school governors and Academy Trust management teams.
The Covid-19 pandemic hit Britain in February, 2020, becoming severe during March when the government declared a public health emergency. Public health legislation is a sledgehammer closing every school regardless of local conditions.
It’s seductively simple closing schools but reopening them is complex. Schools aren’t managed by the government. Havering’s schools will open when their governors are satisfied that the health and safety of staff and pupils is guaranteed. Health and safety is a responsibility of governors or the Academy Trusts. Government can advise but can’t instruct. The indicated date of June 1st has been challenged across the country because of local circumstances.
Havering’s schools will reopen when governors are satisfied it’s safe to do so for staff and children. The arrangements will reflect the geography of their school buildings. Local knowledge is crucial here and will be used to keep Havering’s staff and children safe.
For school closures see https://www.gov.uk/government/news/schools-colleges-and-early-years-settings-to-close
For the responsibility of school governors see https://schoolgovernors.thekeysupport.com/finance-and-premises/health-and-safety/
For the reopening of Havering’s schools see https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/may/10/boris-johnson-coronavirus-lockdown-shops-schools-june-reopening