All schools in Greenwich closed their premises on Monday evening (14th December) and move to online learning for the duration of the term, with the exception of key worker children and those with specific needs.
The decision follows news that cases of Covid 19 are rising in the Borough.
In a statement to parents and guardians, council leader Danny Thorpe said: “I’m writing this open letter to let you know the situation in Greenwich in relation to Covid19 is now escalating extremely quickly and I have today been briefed by colleagues from Public Health England that the pandemic in Greenwich is now showing signs that we are in a period of exponential growth that demands immediate action.
“We now have the highest rates of infection in Greenwich than at any time since March, and for these reasons I have therefore asked all schools in Greenwich to close their premises from Monday evening and move to online learning for the duration of the term, with the exception of key worker children and those with specific needs (exactly the same as in the first lockdown)”.
Read the full statement here.
Some academies in the borough have said however that they will not be following suit, with the headteacher of Ark Greenwich Free School, in Woolwich, saying that the school will open as normal until Thursday, when it is due to close for the Christmas holidays.
There was mixed reaction to the announcement from parents and guardians.
Meanwhile, earlier on Monday, councillor Thorpe added that all schools in the Royal Borough of Greenwich have been asked to move to online learning for most pupils and that the council will keep premises open for the children of key workers, vulnerable children and those with special educational needs.
He said, “Other boroughs have asked schools to take similar measures, and the Mayor of London has also called for all secondary schools to close, with an extra week off in January to enable testing.
“Our request was based on information from Public Health England and supported by the Council’s Public Health team. In the Royal Borough of Greenwich, we currently have the highest rates of COVID-19 since March, with numbers doubling every four days. Our seven-day infection rate for the borough is now 59% higher than at the same point last week.
“Infection rates are particularly high amongst young people, with 817 children of school age testing positive for COVID-19. 4,262 children and 362 staff are self-isolating – that’s an increase of 640 people since Friday. In many cases, other members of the child’s household have also tested positive, impacting entire families.
“Schools across the borough have now organised online learning from tomorrow, whilst others are opening their premises to all pupils. This evening we received a legal direction from the Government to withdraw our request to schools. We are in the process of seeking legal advice and will respond to the Government in the morning.
“We have alerted schools, and will speak to them tomorrow. But given we received this notification just before 5pm, it was impossible to ask schools to change any of the arrangements they have in place for Tuesday.”