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Some West Berkshire primary schools move to online learning as Covid rates continue to rise

West Berkshire Council confirms that some schools do not have enough staff to reopen tomorrow

A number of West Berkshire primary schools will move to remote learning tomorrow (Tuesday), as a lack of staff will prevent them from reopening safely.

West Berkshire Council confirmed this afternoon that all primary schools had been expected to return from the Christmas holidays by tomorrow, but those plans had now changed.

Schools have already been contacting parents directly if they do not intend to open as usual tomorrow, with parents from Hungerford Primary School reporting that it will remain closed to face-to-face teaching tomorrow.

In a statement the district council said: “Most schools are on an inset day today (Monday) but a number of headteachers have decided they will not be able to fully open tomorrow, as they will not have enough staff available to reopen safely due to union advice.

“As leaders of West Berkshire Council, we have been supporting and working with the education team and headteachers across the district to ensure that schools are Covid compliant and are as safe as possible for the return of pupils and staff.

“However, we are remaining alert to changes in the risk as more detailed evidence about the transmission rate of the new variant in different sectors of the population becomes available.

“The basis for the union action is that they believe schools are not safe places for their staff members, but acknowledge, as we believe, that schools are the best place for children to be.

“Headteachers are taking difficult but pragmatic decisions during this challenging time based on health and safety consideration, and we will support them.”

The council confirmed that schools will remain open for vulnerable children and those of critical workers and urged everyone to follow the rules for Tier 4 – which West Berkshire was placed into just before Christmas.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will address the nation at 8pm tonight, where he is expected to announce tougher restrictions.

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