OPEN LETTER TO SADIQ KHAN AND LONDON COUNCILS
Dear Sadiq Khan and Georgia Gould,

School staff were pleased to welcome children back in September and we have worked extremely hard to ensure their safety and to provide a quality education for them.

However, Covid infection rates are now surging everywhere, including London.

The government’s planned new "lockdown" would have been shorter and more effective if it had been implemented earlier, around the half term holiday.

The government is not including schools in the temporary lockdown, which seems to us to be irresponsible.

Schools are clearly important in the spread of the virus, with a 50 fold increase in secondary school cases and a 9 fold increase in primary since September.

We support the NEU call for schools to be part of a temporary lockdown to help bring virus rates back under control. If that happens, we will of course do all in our power to provide support and education for our students.

We believe that this time could then used to work out detailed plans on how we can keep as many students in schools as safely as possible, without risking pushing infection rates back up too high.

We believe that all Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) staff should be working from home, and we think school should be giving other staff at higher risk the choice of working from home.

We believe that councils should be looking at ways of reducing crowding, in all schools moving forward - that could mean:

• regular testing for school staff
• looking at extra buildings to allow more social distancing,
• deploying pools of supply staff to allow smaller class sizes,
• reducing bubble sizes and mixing even further,
• rotas in many schools to allow them to operate as safely as possible.

There is much that has gone well in schools since September, but there have been great challenges for staff at all levels and this is having an impact on capacity, well-being and health - the current situation is simply not sustainable.

Therefore, we are asking you, as London Mayor and chair of London Councils, to meet urgently with NEU representatives to discuss implementing a plan for London schools to protect our communities, students and staff from the virus and to ensure the best possible education provision for our students.

Signed,
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