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Published: Monday, 14th December 2020

Statement from the Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, Cllr Danny Thorpe

“Yesterday we asked all schools in the Royal Borough of Greenwich to move to online learning for most pupils, but keep premises open for the children of key workers, vulnerable children and those with special educational needs. 

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.”