Tower Hamlets Mayor supports new June 15 date for reopening of schools
PUBLISHED: 15:00 02 June 2020
Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs has written to residents outlining a new prospective date of June 15 for the phased reopening of schools.
The letter addresses concerns over the June 1 date originally signposted as the time for schools to begin readmitting students.
In voicing his support for the revised date, itself the suggestion of concerned teaching unions and residents, the mayor said: “My job is to build support for a position that keeps us safe, and around which we can build confidence.
“I recognise the opinion surrounding June 15, and if this is a date around which schools and families can plan, and be confident, then that is a major step forwards for us in Tower Hamlets.”
Mr Biggs acknowledged that a few schools will start widening attendance before that date, but for the majority, June 15 will be “a good date to plan for”.
The mayor previously discussed this subject in a letter dated May 22, following the prime ministerial address on May 10 which first mooted the early June date.
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Both letters prioritise safety, with the most recent praising all progress made in the fight against coronavirus: “A few weeks ago, we would hear of four or five deaths each day, and now most commonly there are none.
“Our local hospital was at risk of not coping, but now hospital admissions are much reduced.”
Mr Biggs added that London now has the lowest ‘R’ rating — 0.4 — in the UK, which points to a continuous decline in the number of infections.
This is reflected in the eight new positive cases recorded in the borough last week, which the mayor indicated was “far fewer than in previous weeks”.
Though all these improvements were recognised, the mayor was clear: “The virus remains a very real threat.”
With that in mind, Mr Biggs described the reopening of schools as a “very delicate issue”, but trusts them to make their own “reasonable decisions”.
In reiterating June 15 as a suitable date to aim for, Mr Biggs emphasised that any reopening can only happen when the appropriate measures are in place, alongside a completed risk assessment.
Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali supported the mayor’s stance, thanking him for “taking on our concerns about safety” with the new date.
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