Brightlingsea Primary and Nursery school – along with all primary schools in Tendring – will be closed to pupils from Tuesday (January 5) following a steep rise in Covid-19 infections across the district.
Schools in Colchester and Uttlesford will also be closed and move to remote learning while Essex County Council seeks "urgent clarity from the Department for Education (DfE) on the current position on primary schools reopening in north Essex".
Schools in the three districts were the only primary schools in Essex due to re-open this week, with the rest of the county’s primary schools remaining closed until Monday 18 January. Vulnerable children and those with parents who are key workers will still be able to attend.
On Sunday, Essex County Council leader David Finch, wrote to the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, pointing out that the Essex Resilience Forum Strategic Co-ordination Group declared a ‘major incident’ in respect of the health system in Essex on December 30. He said that in the past week, case rates in Tendring have risen by 28%, in Uttlesford by 55% and Colchester by 23%.
“As a result of the change in these two factors, I am seeking an urgent review of the position with respect of these three districts and to request that they are placed into the contingency framework with immediate effect," he wrote.
“I appreciate that the implementation of the contingency framework is an absolute last resort action by your department, but as the data indicates, the chain of transmission across Essex continues to increase and we require all available support and assistance to break the chain and to bring this despicable virus under control. I would only make this request under these extremely challenging circumstances.”
Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s cabinet member for education, said: “It makes sense given the rising levels of infection in North Essex and the major incident in Essex’s health system that the position of primaries in North Essex is reviewed by the DfE. This is what happened in London at the end of last week, with the result that all Primary schools in the capital were brought into the contingency framework. This is essentially Essex’s ask – we want to be treated consistently, especially given rising infection levels in the areas concerned.”