WATCH: Streeting slams government as “behind the curve” on school reopening

James Calmus

Labour frontbencher Wes Streeting has criticised the government for being “behind the curve” on the reopening of schools amid the coronavirus pandemic – and urged ministers to “follow the scientific advice”.

In a Sky News interview earlier today, the shadow schools minister said that “deviating from that scientific advice in relation to schools” is “undermining public confidence in the government’s approach to schools and other areas of the pandemic”.

Streeting said: “We already know that schools in London and the South East will be closed tomorrow. There are legitimate questions being asked by councils across the country, school leaders, staff, their unions, parents and even pupils about why other Tier 4 areas aren’t closing.”

The shadow minister raised concerns over the Prime Minister not confirming this morning that schools would reopen on January 18th as currently planned, creating yet more uncertainty over the coming weeks.

Asked whether he could “guarantee” that schools would reopen on the 18th, Boris Johnson told the BBC: “We’re going to continue to assess the impact of the Tier 4 measures, the Tier 3 measures… We think, in principle, it’s a good thing to keep schools open if we can.”

When asked by Andrew Marr whether the government could introduce a new Tier 5 level of restrictions, he replied: “It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that will be tougher. I’m fully, fully reconciled to that.”

Streeting asked: “What’s the plan for remote education for pupils who are off school? Where’s the support for parents who have to work?”. He called for clarification on whether end-of-year exams would go ahead, too, as they have not so far been cancelled in England.

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