• Mayor writes to Prime Minister on planned school reopening

    Mayor Ros Jones has today written to the Prime Minister asking for further clarity on the science and data behind the planned reopening of schools and nurseries at the beginning of June.
    Mayor Ros has shared her concerns with Boris Johnson on not having sufficient data and evidence for Doncaster that would enable her to recommend to schools, parents and trade unions if schools and nurseries should re-open on June 1.
    Her concerns about the lack of robust data to help inform her’s and council senior officers’ planning for schools have been outlined in her letter (copy of the letter attached).
    Explaining how the council has been working collaboratively with schools for months, Mayor Jones set out the ‘Recovery Principles’ that are leading the planning for Doncaster:
    • The safety of staff, children and families is paramount.
    • Schools and settings need sufficient time and resources to prepare to reopen and operate safely.
    • Reopening of schools and settings will be a gradual process in full consultation with all stakeholders.
    • Every school faces a unique set of challenges and this will be taken into consideration when planning to reopen.
    • The emotional health and wellbeing of staff and children must be the focus once schools reopen. 
    The letter also points out the information needed to help inform her recommendation which is either partially available or unavailable:
    • The total number of COVID-19 PCR antigen tests carried out on Doncaster residents
    • The number of positive COVID-19 PCR antigen tests on Doncaster residents by age and postcode
    • The results of the care home testing programme
    • NHS 111 usage by age and postcode for Doncaster residents
    Mayor Ros said: “I felt it imperative that I write to the Prime Minister to raise with him directly the lack of evidence and data available at a local level.
    “This concerns me and no doubt will concern parents, carers, school head teachers and staff and trade unions who support young people in education and learning.
    “If I am to recommend to schools in our borough that they reopen on June 1, then we need to have a strong evidential base for doing so. It is of course a matter for schools if they wish to reopen as this is an autonomous decision for them but I want them to have the most relevant data to be able to make that decision.
    “Coupled with that, I want to hear what parents and carers think so have published a survey to ask for their views as I appreciate they may be concerned, confused and unsettled by the national conversation. This feedback will help inform my recommendation about returning to school. I want any return to be as safe as possible and in the very best interests of everyone.”
    The Mayor’s survey started yesterday and will be available until midnight tonight (May 20): https://www.doncaster.gov.uk/services/schools/information-about-the-reopening-of-schools

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