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Militant teachers’ union threatens to close schools if local coronavirus cases hit 50 in 100,000

MILITANT teachers are threatening to shut schools if local coronavirus cases hit 50 in 100,000.

But the latest union attempt to halt a return to the classroom was branded a “hard-left wrecking ball to our children’s futures”.

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The demand would currently see pupils not back at desks in cities and towns including Bradford, Blackburn and Oldham, with Swindon and Rochdale also nudging the cut-off point.

The Education Solidarity Network, a left-wing faction in the National Education Union, will hold street protests on Friday across Britain with a list of safety demands such as free PPE and weekly Covid tests for teachers.

And it announced tonight it wants to be able to close classrooms if local infection rates hit its chosen level.

ESN boss and secondary school teacher James Kerr said: “We have already lost colleagues to the virus and will lose more if there is not action.”

He added: “It’s not the Victorian era anymore. Every worker should be able to go to work in the knowledge that they will return alive and well.”

More moderate bosses of the biggest teachers unions distanced themselves from the ESN’s cut-off figure.

But they warned: “We have to prepare for a range of possible scenarios — including pupils and teachers having to isolate.”

The NEU’s spokesman added: “We are pressing the Government on the need to have a robust track, trace and test programme in place and a Plan B in the case of local lockdowns or a second spike.”

PM Boris Johnson has said schools will be the last thing to close even in areas experiencing a resurgence of the virus.

And today a key ally rejected the latest plot by organised teachers and urged Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to do the same.

Conservative Party co-chairman Amanda Milling hit out: “This hard-left action takes a wrecking ball to our children’s futures.

“Sir Keir Starmer and the NEU need to take a stand and put a stop to this action that puts the future of so many young people at risk.

“Getting children back to school is a key priority and we should all be working together to get pupils back safely.

“We have a detailed plan and it’s time for Labour and the NEU to work with us to ensure the life chances of a generation of schoolchildren — particularly the most disadvantaged — are not lost to coronavirus.”

But a Labour source warned that schools reopening risked being a “fiasco” like exam results due to blundering ministers.

The row came as senior Tories warned Gavin Williamson is “on his last life” and will be swiftly sacked if the reopening of schools is botched.

The embattled Education Secretary has defied calls to quit from opposition parties following the A-levels grading scandal.

But No10 does not dispute Mr Williamson offered to fall on his sword.

Fellow Cabinet ministers and MPs have told The Sun he would not survive another scandal next month if he botches Mr Johnson’s flagship pledge to reopen schools.

Senior Tories reject claims Boris is protecting the ex-Chief Whip who helped organise the PM’s party takeover — amid fears he “not only buried all the bodies but still has the shovel”.

One Government insider said: “Gavin talks a good game but the People’s Government will not be blackmailed by anyone.”

The warnings came as Health Secretary Matt Hancock hinted Mr Williamson had not been given the boot because of his crucial role in implementing the PM’s promise to parents that pupils will be back at the start of the new term.

Mr Hancock told Sky News: “The big focus is on getting schools back and open at the start of next month, an incredibly important task.

“I don’t think we should be distracted from that task now. We need to absolutely focus on it.”

 

 

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