Yesterday in the House of Commons, Munira pressed Nadhim Zahawi, Minister for Health and Social Care, to guarantee schools will reopen in September. With Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, warning that England could face another lockdown in 5 weeks if Covid cases rise too high, Munira sought assurances on behalf of parents and children in her constituency that schools would not be shut.
Children have had to pay a high price throughout the pandemic. Pupils have had to learn from home during previous lockdown measures and many have had to self-isolate due to the Government’s school bubble policy. This has heavily impacted their education and wellbeing.
The Minister was not able to provide a clear guarantee that schools would stay open, leading to concerns from Munira that the Government has not got a grip on this crisis.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Munira asked:
“Like hundreds of thousands of other school children, my seven-year-old daughter is out of school at home today, self-isolating. I am sure that the Minister will agree that children have paid far too high a price in this pandemic in their mental health and in their education, missing out on school. Yet only last week, Professor Whitty said that we may see new restrictions in five weeks’ time, which is just before schools return. The Department for Education issued new guidance to schools, saying that they must be prepared to deliver remote education in the autumn. Today, the Minister said that we will not vaccinate all teenagers. What guarantees will this Government provide to pupils and parents across the country that schools will reopen in September fully and safely, and will stay open? Will he rule out any further school closures?”
Nadhim Zahawi responded:
“We and the devolved Administrations have accepted the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to vaccinate vulnerable children, those children who live with vulnerable adults, and 17-year-olds close to their 18th birthday. The committee is, however, keeping the situation under review and looking at more data emerging from other countries, including the United States of America, on whether we should vaccinate all children. I reassure the hon. Lady that children will have two supervised tests on their return and that testing will continue until the end of September. A combination of that and vaccinating at scale all adults helps us to control transmission. Double-vaccinated people reduce transmission rates by about 50%.”
Following the exchange, Munira said:
“I am horrified by the Minister’s failure to reassure us that schools will open again in September, it is a major blow to every family. Like so many other parents I had a child at home today due to COVID infections. Parents need this government to get a grip or they will be awarded “F” for failure not freedom.”