24 primary schools in Bedford delay opening due to rise in coronavirus cases and fears over further spreading

Mayor writes to education secretary to allow them to remain closed for time being

By Clare Turner
Monday, 4th January 2021, 1:55 pm
Updated Monday, 4th January 2021, 2:02 pm

As of today (January 4), 24 out of 54 primary schools in Bedford have delayed fully reopening.

A Bedford Borough Council spokesperson said: "The decision to open a school to all pupils, or just to the most vulnerable children and children of key workers is one each school has to take, and the council will support their decision.

"As at 10am today, 24 (out of 54) primary schools in Bedford borough have made the decision to delay the full opening of their school. Three schools have decided that they will open to all pupils from Tuesday, January 5. The remaining schools are considering their position today.

24 primary schools in Bedford have delayed opening

"This is a fast moving situation and I expect the decisions by individual schools to change rapidly throughout the day."

Cotton End Forest School, Roxton C of E Academy, Wixams Tree Primary School, Pinchmill Primary School and The Hills Academy will all open tomorrow (January 5),

Bedford mayor Dave Hodgson has written to Gavin Williamson MP - secretary of state for education - asking him to review the decision on primary schools and allow them to remain closed for the time being.

He said: "I am concerned that our primary schools were due to reopen despite the fact our number of positive Coronavirus cases has been rising for a number of weeks. In the seven days to December 27 we recorded over 1,000 positive cases for the first time; in the same period we saw a rate of over 650 cases per 100,000.

Bedford mayor Dave Hodgson

"Our view is that primary schools should only be open for the first two weeks of term to vulnerable pupils and children of key workers due to the local and national evidence of the increase in cases and the rapid transmission of the new variant of coronavirus."

He went on to say: "When I did not receive a response, the council wrote to all primary schools in the borough. Under the current guidance from the Department for Education, it remains each school's decision about whether they can safely open in line with their own risk assessment. The council told school we would support their decision should they chose to close.

"We did not do this lightly and realise the uncertainty for schools, parents and pupils will have caused anxiety, but the health concerns are real and urgent.

"It was also agreed that if a primary school is open but parents choose to keep their children at home there will be no fine, but the council will keep the situation under review."