MPs from across Cumbria have met via Zoom this evening to discuss the current debate surrounding the reopening of Primary Schools.
In summing up, Barrow MP Simon Fell criticised Cumbria County Council for "irresponsible tweets". He said:
"I've spent much of today speaking to school governors, parents and teachers about the reopening of primary schools tomorrow. The evening ended with a call with Cumbrian MP colleagues and the Schools Minister.
"This was all set off by a series of irresponsible tweets from Cumbria County Council, which has set hares running amongst parents and teachers alike.
"Right now, with everything else going on, the last thing that either of these groups need is more stress or uncertainty.
"The key message is this - primary schools are open tomorrow or Tuesday as planned UNLESS your school informs you otherwise.
"Cumbria has not entered the 'contingency framework', meaning that schools should remain open. As DfE said in its letter to Cumbria Council, they aim to keep school closures exceptional and stand by the principle that they should be ‘last to close, and first to open’.
"It may well be that if the number of cases of COVID keep rising in our community that this step is necessary, but we are not at that stage yet, and nor do I hope we will get to it.
"Secondary schools are working to a staggered start while they establish rapid testing for pupils and staff. This will help minimise the spread of the virus and help deliver the priority of keeping as many pupils and teachers as possible in school beyond the start of term.
"Keeping schools open is crucial to children's life chances, to their mental and physical health and, for some, they are an essential safe space.
"They are also crucial to allowing people to get to work themselves. Many of those who reached out to me today know that, which is why they so passionately argue to keep primary schools open.
"Education is essential. For that reason, I do think that there is a case to be made for extending lateral flow testing down to primary level, & bringing teachers into an early vaccination programme. We discussed this with the Minister & will continue to do so.
"Regardless, the message tonight is that unless you hear differently from your primary school, they should be open.