Michael Fabricant. Picture: UK Parliament

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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

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6 Comments

  1. In the Government guidance “Action for schools during the coronavirus outbreak” the preamble talks about the wider opening of schools. It says “We will only do this provided that the five key tests set by the government justify the changes at the time, including that the rate of infection is decreasing. As a result, we are asking schools, colleges and childcare providers to plan on this basis, ahead of confirmation that these tests are met.”

    The tests haven’t been met. It is a mystery therefore why schools are being opened.

  2. I have seen school staff not following the rules, going into other people’s houses and not distancing. What chance do the kids have?

  3. If only the PM and Cabinet would listen to such an experienced and senior Tory voice of reason. After the Education Secretary’s press conference it seems they are taking the totally opposite view to our respected MP.

    I wonder why?

    Maybe they just see him as an irritating buffoon in a safe seat too.

  4. As a teacher I wonder about the affect reopening schools will have on the children I teach and their family members, many of whom are vulnerable adults. I know in my small school several have lost grandparents or have parents that are seriously ill in hospital with the virus. By the very nature of this novel Corona virus, we don’t know the longer term implications on children’s health.

    If our MP only considers that 7 % of MP’s can go back to work in parliament while observing social distancing, why should it be different in a small classroom? That would mean no more than one child and one teacher in a classroom. Schools are normally packed, and our corridors are much, much smaller than the ones in the Houses of Parliament I can tell you. Children are excellent spreaders of infection. Is that really the strategy now? Why did the government close schools and enforce social distancing in the first place if we are to throw away the ‘gains’ now? We are already the worse affected country in the world, excluding America. ( Or including America if you consider deaths per million of the population) Also is Parliament not in London? Which according to some of the press will be free of the virus in the next two weeks. why then is Parliament not going back before the rest of the country?

    Premier League football teams are considering resuming training after June on a football pitch with no more than ‘ four or five players’ and then they ‘hope that they don’t get infected’ . That’s four or five people in a space 25 times bigger than a typical class room.

    Reopen Parliament and stop using our children and their families as guinea pigs.

  5. Our MP is making a much more convincing and common sense argument than the Government at present. Perhaps the PM and Cabinet should be listening to MPs like Mr Fabricant and other “back-bench” MPs who I have seen quoted as they seem more in tune with the public mood.

    I have never been much of a supporter of Mr Gove in any of his senior positions and I believe his comments today on the subject of schools are ill-judged and not at all sensible.

    The PM would be better advised listening to his MPs who have their finger on the pulses of their constituency.

  6. Seems he’s listened to the comments on his parliament post .
    My partner’s a Teacher and for them to correctly social distance one class of year six pupils it would take five classrooms something that isn’t possible .

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