SIOBHAN BAILLIE: ‘I want our kids back in primary schools’

This week is half-term – which will be a very strange one for parents who have been home-schooling their children as not a great deal is changing.

A welcome break from having to conduct lessons is a bonus but there is still the juggle of looking after a child and working when there are no holiday clubs or many places open to entertain them.

Teachers, who have worked incredibly hard at lessons for critical worker children as well online teaching, also need a well-earned break.

There is some hope for next month. I’m increasingly confident the March 8 date for schools to reopen is not now just an aspiration due to rapidly falling Covid cases.

I have made it clear in parliament that I want schools to be back as soon as possible. I would certainly like to see all primary schools back on March 8 but I would support secondary schools going back in a phased way so they can ease into the Covid testing arrangements.

I continue to speak to Stroud headteachers, teachers, governors and parents via telephone or Zoom to be kept up to date with all the concerns and issues they are experiencing. It has been a difficult time and I would like to thank everyone for all they have done.

Looking forward, next week the Prime Minister is due to give the country a road map for the coming months. I am sure everyone will be very interested to hear what he has to say.

There is much speculation about the relaxation of rules but I understand the government also needs to be cautious too. No-one wants another lockdown.

There is some very positive news around infection rates, hospitalisations and fatalities here in the UK.

I would like to thank the NHS, the military and all those volunteers who have taken part in vaccinating 15 million people from the top four priority groups by the mid-February deadline. What a logistical feat and what dedication and organisation.

I visited a vaccination centre at the Vale Hospital last week and I found it quite emotional, as anyone who watched my Facebook video will know! Thank you all.

Gazette Series Gloucestershire