Mayor welcomes Newham schools reopening

Signage outside a closed West Bridgford Infants School in Nottingham. Photograp: Tim Goode/PA.

The mayor of Newham has welcomed the reopening of schools on March 8. - Credit: PA

The mayor of Newham has welcomed the government's planned full reopening of schools on March 8.

Rokhsana Fiaz was speaking in response to the announcement on the easing of lockdown restrictions made by prime minister Boris Johnson on Monday, February 23.

Ms Fiaz said: "We know there will be a profound impact on our children educationally and in their well-being and that’s why I welcome schools re-opening on March 8, because we need to reverse any impact on their long-term prospects.

"But I am clear that we will continue supporting our schools here in Newham with the important Covid-19 risk assessments required and with testing that will keep our children, teachers and school staff safe and protect the wider community in Newham.

"Our children’s education is an absolute priority, and attending school is an important start to get back to some semblance of ‘normality’, but it must be done safely."

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The mayor welcomed the focus on data and not dates to determine the timetable out of lockdown, but said this must be backed up with extra money for local authorities.

Covid-19 has cost Newham £75million, but there is a £12m shortfall in the amount received from central government.

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"It’s an outrage and an injustice that we have to pay for the failures of the government’s response to Covid-19, and not fulfilling its promise to [the] council that they will give us more money," the mayor said.

The government has not responded to a request for comment.

She thanked key workers, voluntary, community and faith organisations as well as volunteers for their work in the pandemic.

"I also want to pay tribute to our hard working and committed teachers and schools in Newham, who have done everything they can to support our youngsters during this incredibly challenging time," she added.

Newham was hailed by the mayor for being the first borough in the country to offer hotel accommodation to those who would otherwise struggle to self-isolate. 

Ms Fiaz called on the government to extend furlough, continue the ban on evictions, provide full sick pay protection for workers and options for people to self-isolate in alternative accommodation.

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