Statement below from Cllr Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council on the reopening of primary schools in Cumbria:
“Sadly the situation in Cumbria continues to get worse and we are seeing significant increases in the number of people infected with COVID. We feel strongly that more needs to be done to help protect residents and our communities and we are deeply concerned about the likelihood of further significant transmission as a result of schools reopening from Monday 4 January.
"As such we asked Government to move Cumbria into the National DfE contingency framework for the next 2 weeks, allowing primary schools to defer reopening to all children, except the most vulnerable and the children of key workers.
"They have now responded and Government have decided that for now Cumbria’s Primary schools should reopen as planned. This is disappointing news and I feel that this is the wrong decision for Cumbria and for our families and communities. They have however committed to work with us next week to look again at the situation in Cumbria and together I hope we can agree additional measures that can be put into place to help manage the spread of the infection and therefore protect our residents and communities from this very challenging pandemic.
"The County Council cannot instruct schools not to reopen. That is a decision for the governors of each school on the advice of their head teacher.
"However, we are concerned, given the current situation, about both staff and pupil welfare and safety and we recognise the enormous strain and pressure being placed on school governors and head teachers.
"I therefore give an assurance that any school in Cumbria that decides that at the present time they are only able to extend direct provision to vulnerable children and the children of key workers, and that they cannot open the school fully in line with government instruction, will have the full support and backing of Cumbria County Council."