School closures in Welwyn Hatfield

Primary school

Primary schools across the county are facing the difficult decision on whether or not to reopen this week. - Credit: Archant

Schools in Welwyn Hatfield have to make the difficult decision on whether or not to reopen this week in light of conflicting advice from the government and unions.

While many schools in the area plan to open this week, St Philip Howard School announced yesterday that they would not open as planned today.

A statement from the school said: "Staff will continue to make urgent arrangements and online learning will take place from 10am on Google Classroom.

"This has been a very hard decision to make. This message in full has been sent to your email - please read to understand why we came to this decision."

The situation for schools across the county is likely to change at any time, as another national lockdown is expected to be announced this evening.

A county council statement said: “Hertfordshire County Council recognises that, where schools are not confident that they will be able to open and operate safely and effectively due to insufficient teaching staff on Monday, January 4, we will offer advice and guidance on a case-by-case basis and accept that for operational reasons the school may need to remain closed.

"We expect that children of critical workers will continue to attend school, and also vulnerable children.

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 “Hertfordshire County Council notes the firm expectation of the Prime Minister and the Department of Education that schools will remain open wherever possible and is not advising schools to close on Monday as a matter of policy or infection control, unless located in an area identified by the Government's Contingency Framework.

 “We will expect schools to assess their positions on Monday in relation to staffing levels and then plan ahead for the rest of the week.

"We would anticipate that schools will use their normal communications to advise parents of the arrangements for their individual schools.

 “We fully appreciate that these are difficult and concerning times for people, however, we do need to consider the importance of education for children of all ages and the mental, behavioural and social benefits that come from being in a school environment.

"Our continued thanks to our school heads and all the school staff for their constant and incredible work in providing education for all our young people.”