Jane Lock Somerset Lib Dems leader

Jane Lock, Leader of the Lib Dems at Somerset County Council, has written to the Conservative Leader of Somerset County Council to call for ‘immediate action’ to keep local people safe as schools re-open.

She has calling on Cllr David Fothergill to go ‘further than the Government’ in order to try to help reduce the pressure on Somerset’s hospital beds.

Cllr Lock says she’s concerned that Somerset has not yet seen the full effects of the new variant of Coronavirus, which could lead to a further increase in positive cases and hospital admissions following the Christmas period.

She says Somerset Lib Dems want “immediate action” in four areas:

1. A move to temporary remote learning until 18th January, whilst a new Covid Health & Safety plan is developed for pupils at school and college

2. Making the early vaccination of teachers and all staff in schools and colleges a priority

3. Removing the threat of fines for families whose children do not attend school until 18th January, adding that the threat of fines places those on the lowest incomes under the greatest stress

4. Providing free school meals for those children entitled to them, using the funding the County Council put aside for last October’s half term holiday, but didn’t use

Cllr Lock adds: “This episode is threatening to be very messy and confusing for Somerset’s pupils, parents, teachers and all school and college staff. It’s important to remember that it didn’t have to be this way.”

“My hope is that where the Government has failed, here in Somerset we can at least make education safer and more certain locally, and help Somerset’s hospitals and our NHS, which still have to face the full impact after the Christmas break.”

We have invited the Conservative group to provide a response and will update this story when it is received.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday that he has “no doubt” that schools are safe and parents should send primary-age children back to classrooms this week where schools remain open.

Mr Johnson said he understood people’s concerns about children returning for the new term but said education is “a priority”. “Schools are safe. It is very, very important to stress that. The risk to kids, to young people is really very, very small indeed.”

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