'It will save lives' - Norfolk reaction to third national lockdown

Scott Lyons, from the National Education Union. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Scott Lyons, from the National Education Union. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The decision to close schools to the majority of pupils will ultimately save lives.

This is the view of Scott Lyons, district secretary of the Norfolk branch of the National Education Union, which represents the county's teachers.

Following the prime minister's announcement of a third national lockdown, schools across the country will be closed to all but the children of key workers and the vulnerable - though many had made the decision to do this already.

And Mr Lyons has said this decision will save lives - adding that he was proud of the schools that had already taken measures into their own hands.

He said: "From a union perspective it is very hard not to say 'we told you so' but we feel like we have not been listened to the whole way. We were talking about things like staggered openings and rotas since June.

"We've had so many teachers coming to us positively terrified about going back and it is absolutely the right thing not to re-open them in full after Christmas with this new strain of the virus.

"It's important to remember though that schools are not closed and they have never shut entirely - they will continue to be open to the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils, but the safest place for most children now is at home.

"The vulnerable list has been expanded so it will be difficult still, but our take is that there must not be more than 15 pupils in a class at one point at the very maximum. But the "schools are Covid-safe" bubble has truly burst."

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He added: "I'm incredibly proud of the way so many schools took action on Monday and in doing so they have saved lives."

Meanwhile, community leaders have also reacted to the PM's announcement, with Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor describing the measures as "unavoidable". 

Andrew Proctor has sent a scathing letter to the Planning Inspectorate over its decision to allow 17

Andrew Proctor has sent a scathing letter to the Planning Inspectorate over its decision to allow 170 homes to be built in Brundall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

He said: "I understand and support the need for additional restrictions across England. The speed of transmission of this new variant is clearly a cause for major concern. 

"In Norfolk alone we have more than 550 Covid patients in hospital. This is a really tough start to 2021 after a really tough 2020, but it's more crucial now than ever than we follow the rules."

And Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at County Hall, said he greeted the announcement with "a mixture of exasperation and relief".

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk Counnty Council. Pic: Archant

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk Counnty Council. Pic: Archant - Credit: Archant

He said: "Buying time to get vaccinations out trumps everything but we must make sure those affected by lockdown are looked after - families, school children, carers, vulnerable people, key workers, businesses all need help. 

"That doesn’t excuse the chaos in the lead-up but that’s a reckoning for another day. Right now the message and the mission is clear.

"I fully support the lockdown as the least worst option we must all make work."

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