Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told parents they should be sending their children into primary schools on Monday and issued the message: “Schools are safe.”
Primary schools are set to open across much of England following the Christmas break, with closures in place in Covid-19 hotspots such as London.
Appearing on the Andrew Marr Show, Mr Johnson said he understands the fears of parents but insisted: “Schools are safe. It is very, very important to stress that. The risk to kids, to young people is really very, very small indeed. The risk to staff is very small.”
However, he did also warn that tougher measures may be required in the weeks to come – which may include the closure of schools.
And parents say they have been left “torn” over the reopenings, with some stating they will be keeping their children at home despite their school opening its doors, arguing it is “absolutely not safe”.
A post on Mumsnet asked parents in Tier 4 areas if they be sending their kids back as normal, and it has gained almost 100 replies with plans of action divided.
Many said their children would be attending, as one wrote: “Yes, tier 4. I will be sending my daughter to primary school. She’s has gone throughout as I am NHS. I feel for the teachers but I am also seriously worried about my daughter’s mental health as well as her education.”
A second wrote: “I’m sending my [daughter]. She’s statistically more likely to die in the car on the way there than she is from Covid. She likes school, didn’t like home schooling and it’s absolutely to her long term benefit to get the best possible education.”
Another added: “We are Tier 4, the schools are open and they will be going in. No doubt in my mind whatsoever. You cannot live your life in fear, particularly in fear of something that is extremely unlikely to make them ill or die.”
But others said they believe it “isn’t worth the risk”, replying: “No. It’s not just about whether schools are safe for children, it’s about whether they are safe for staff and what effect having schools open will have on transmission rates in the community as a whole.”
Someone else commented: “No, we are not sending in for two weeks, by which time it is likely that the Tier 4 primary schools will have been closed anyway.”
And some were left undecided, writing: “I don’t see the benefit of sending him in for a few days to pick Covid up, bring it home, then schools close due to numbers going through the roof. But I don’t feel comfortable keeping him out of school against the rules / when all his peers will be in.”