The Norfolk primary schools which will not reopen on January 4
- Credit: PA
A growing number of primary schools have confirmed they will not be reopening their doors to pupils on Monday in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
All primary schools had been expected to reopen on Monday (January 4) but several schools in Norfolk will not be opening their doors to pupils tomorrow amid concern about rising coronavirus figures.
The move came after the National Education Union (NEU), which represents the majority of teachers, has called for all English primary schools to move online and advised its members it is not safe to return to classrooms on Monday.
Norfolk County Council said it is up to the individual school to decide whether pupils will be returning on Monday and insisted parents should check school communications to see if their school will be open.
Schools which have so far confirmed they will not be opening to pupils on Monday include:
- Colman Junior School, Norwich
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- North Denes Primary School, Great Yarmouth
- Woodland View Junior School, Spixworth
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- Manor Field Infant and Nursery, Long Stratton
- Dereham Church of England Junior Academy, Dereham
- Wensum Junior School, Norwich
- Sheringham Community Primary School, Sheringham
- Cecil Gowing Infant School, Sprowston
- John Grant School, Caister-on-Sea
- Rollesby Primary School and Nursery
- George White Junior School, Norwich
- Mousehold Infant and Nursery School, Norwich
- Brundall Primary School, Brundall
- Woodside Primary School, Hethersett
- Hempnall Primary School, Hempnall
- St Williams Primary School, Thorpe St Andrew
- Drayton Community Infant School, Drayton
- Robert Kett Primary School, Wymondham
- Browick Road Primary and Nursery, Wymondham
- Preston Primary School, Tasburgh
- Saxlingham Nethergate Primary School, Saxlingham Nethergate
In a letter to parents, John McConnell, head teacher of George White Junior School in Norwich, said he was "truly sorry" for having to announce the school's closure at such short notice.
He wrote: "I’m very sorry but I am writing to tell you that school will be closed tomorrow, Monday 4th January and I do not know when we will be able to fully open again."
He said he did not know when they would have enough staff to open safely but insisted online learning would be up and running from 9am tomorrow.
Julie Sandford, head of Colman Junior School in Norwich, which will also be shut tomorrow, said: "I have made the difficult decision to close both federation schools fully for the first two days of term.
"We currently do not have enough staff to operate safely and my intention is that both schools will reopen from Wednesday to key worker and vulnerable children only."
She also apologised for the short notice.
Meanwhile the Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust, which has 35 primary schools across Norfolk and Waveney and the Diocese of St Benet's Multi-Academy Trust, which has six across south Norfolk has released a joint statement on the closures.
The statement said: "The position of the government is that primary schools in our region should open on Monday 4th January. Whilst we are aiming to do this, it may not be fully possible in all cases across the two Trusts.
“In order to open, headteachers need to have the correct number of staff in school to teach classes. Several of our headteachers are indicating that staff availability will be reduced, and therefore teaching will need to be done remotely for some children.
“We recognise that this will present significant challenges for families, but we have to be assured that the children coming into school will always be looked after safely.
“Where schools are not able to open fully, they will still be open for children of key workers and vulnerable children, unless there are exceptional circumstances which means that even this is not possible.
“Our academies will be providing online or remote learning to children who are not able to attend school, to the best of their ability.
“Headteachers are working hard to navigate the best route through this extremely challenging situation, and we are supporting them to ensure that they can provide as safe and effective a learning environment for as many children as possible.
“This is a fast-moving situation, and one that is likely to change through the coming days and weeks. Our priorities will always be the safety of children and staff, and to provide as full a learning experience as possible within those safety parameters.”
A government announcement on December 30 amid rising Covid-19 rates meant that secondary school pupils and college students in Norfolk - and across the county - would undergo a phased return to school
In terms of primary schools, Norfolk County Council said it is up to the individual school to decide whether pupils will be returning on Monday and insisted parents should check school communications to see if their school will be open.
Primary school leaders in Norfolk and Waveney said they felt they had been left in limbo as they prepared to open on Monday - despite London schools being told they could stay shut.
A message on the county council's website states: "Primary schools may need to stagger the return of children to school from Monday 4 January 2021. Your school will let you know if they cannot open for your child from Monday.
"The rate of COVID infection increased in Norfolk over the Christmas break. This may mean that some Norfolk schools do not know if they have enough staff to open safely.
"It is a headteacher's decision, with their governing body /trust, as to whether they can open safely. The council will support any school leader who makes a decision not to open for the majority of pupils on 4 January 2021. Each school will be responsible for this decision.
"Parents and carers should check their school communications to see if their school is closed on Monday 4 January.
"Children of critical workers and vulnerable children will be invited to attend as soon as possible. Contact your school to confirm your place in school from Monday 4 January - every school must open for those children, from the first day of term if they possibly can.
"It may take schools a day or two, or more, to decide whether they have enough staff to reopen to all children as soon as possible. Keep looking out for messages from your child's school to see when your child can go back to school. Children will be given some remote learning if they are at home. As Norfolk is in Tier 4 many parents and carers are expected to work from home if they can."