Sheffield MP accuses Government of failing to protect school children as Covid cases hit record high

A Sheffield MP has accused the Government of failing to protect children as they return to schools this week amidst the surge of Covid cases across the country due to the Omicron variant.

Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 3:33 pm

Sheffield Heeley Labour MP Louise Haigh said the Government's introduction of 7,000 air purifiers for schools is 'woeful' and 'equivalent to less than one in three schools receiving a single unit'.

The Government has planned to provide air purifiers in schools to mitigate the spread of Omicron, but the move has been criticised by teaching unions and the Labour Party as a rushed measure.

The Department for Education has announced it will be providing the air cleaning units for early years settings, schools and colleges.

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The Department for Education (DfE) has announced it will be providing the air cleaning units for early years settings, schools and colleges.

It said the measure 'will improve ventilation in teaching spaces and help to minimise disruption to face-to-face education’.

Louise said: “Over the past two years, young people’s education has suffered immensely with the closure of schools and the amount of face-to-face education they have missed.

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“Once again, as children prepare to return to school, the Government has failed to act to protect them. The introduction of 7,000 air purifiers is woeful and is the equivalent to less than one in three schools receiving a single air purifier.

“Teachers, teaching assistants and other frontline staff have been working around the clock to keep us all safe, the Government needs to do the same.

“Our children’s education cannot be an afterthought and lessons must be learnt to ensure that their education does not face any further disruption. They must get to grips with this immediately.”

The latest data made available by Public Health England shows Sheffield’s Covid infection rate leapt by 65 per cent in the days immediately after Christmas.

On December 29, Sheffield recorded an average infection rate of 1,536.5 per 100,000 people, with 9,053 new recorded cases.

This marks an increase of 64 per cent on figures released before Christmas on December 23, when the infection rate was recorded as 931 per 100,000.

The National Education Union has also expressed its concern that schools could end up being combined due to staff shortages affected in wake of the recent emerges of the new Covid variant.