Concerns of teachers and parents in Lichfield and Burntwood must be addressed before schools reopen, an MP has said.
Some year groups are set to return to the classroom at the start of June under plans unveiled by the Government to ease coronavirus restrictions.
But some teaching groups and parents have expressed concerns about the proposals – with one Lichfield headteacher saying it would be a decision for parents to make about whether their kids will return or not.
Figures have revealed that 44% of people across the country are now working from home.
Conservative MP Michael Fabricant said that steps must be taken to ensure teachers and others who have to return to the workplace are protected.
“For the 56% of those who cannot work from home – those in manufacturing, retail, cleaning, teaching and others – they have every right to expect their work environment to be as safe as it possibly can be.
“This means ensuring that there is social distancing in place and, where necessary on strict medical grounds, adequate supplies of PPE are available.
“In Staffordshire, a flexible and local decision making approach has been adopted with respect to the return of schools.
“The county council recognises the highest priority and consideration must be the safety and wellbeing of children, young people, staff and others – and that includes ensuring social distancing is observed.
“But I recognise that parents and teachers will still have concerns and these must be addressed before all schools can return.”Michael Fabricant MP
“A partnership between employees and management”
Mr Fabricant said that the move towards working away from major cities was one positive to emerge from the crisis.
“The Government’s injunction to continue to work from home if you possibly can is wonderful news for the environment and has, at a stroke, decentralised work from our major cities.
“I hope this practice will continue and continue to expand long after the COVID-19 crisis is over.
“This time last year, only 12% of the working population did so from their homes. The internet revolution has made new forms of working possible.
“It will be some months yet before the Government will be able to change the instruction ‘work from home if you possibly can’ so in the meantime, everyone who has to go out to work should remain alert to danger and take all possible precautions.
“This has to be a partnership between employees and management”Michael Fabricant MP
“An epidemiologist’s worst nightmare”
The MP’s comments come after he previously questioned plans for a full-scale return to the House of Commons.
Mr Fabricant warned that any such move should only be based on expert advice.
“I believe an early return to the House of Commons is unwise.
“Social distancing rules set by the Speaker for the safety of staff means that in the Chamber, only 47 MPs out of 650 will be allowed to attend so it will not be a return to business as usual.
“The current hybrid arrangements, while not perfect, mean that MPs can work from home while all can still take part in voting on legislation, asking questions, scrutinising the Government, speaking in debates, and undertaking constituency work.
“The cramped conditions of the ancient Palace of Westminster is not the ideal environment for providing safe working conditions for the thousands of staff who work in the building as social distancing is impossible in its narrow corridors.
“Having people arrive there from other parts of the country which are still experiencing high infection rates is an epidemiologist’s worst nightmare.”Michael Fabricant MP