Manchester mayor in blistering clash with Hartley-Brewer on schools reopening timeline

Andy Burnham clashes with Hartley-Brewer on reopening schools

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TalkRADIO host Julia Hartley-Brewer clashed with the Labour Mayor of Manchester Andy Burham on Tuesday as the two sparred over the timelines for school reopening. Boris Johnson’s proposals would see full education resume as normal from March 8 as part of a wider lifting of current coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Andy Burnham was forced to defend criticism of returning children to school “too early”, a stance Ms Hartley-Brewer found highly questionable.

“You could bring the whole school back on 8 March and then you could have to close the whole school on the 15 March,” claimed Mr Burnham.

Ms Hartley-Brewer demanded to know why.

The Mayor of Manchester replied: “Because there is an outbreak because the new strain can move very quickly through communities.”

“Andy Burnham, Andy, Andy you’re a former Health Secretary you know perfectly well there are many different strains many mutations of every virus,” fired back the radio host.

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Ms Hartley-Brewer said: “You’ll also know that many of these actually don’t move quickly through different populations.

“But even if they do, even in more children did get infected as a result of going to school, one issue is that they are highly unlikely to become ill.

“Highly unlikely to transmit it to their teachers as we know because we have seen that teachers are at no greater risk than other professions.

“We are following data now apparently.”

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Children, aside from those of key workers, are now six weeks into the spring term without having set foot into the classroom.

Experts had identified schools as vectors for COVID-19 transmission at the time, and the Government pulled children from education just one day after the Christmas holidays ended.

The Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown seeks to have them back in school by March 8, he will announce yesterday.

Mr Johnson told Parliament on Monday all schools can return next month.

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He has also allowed after school sports and activities to resume.

Despite being the first stage of a four-part roadmap, every schoolchild will return in what people have described as a “big bang”.

Dr Mary Bousted, a joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said the current plan runs “a series of unnecessary risks.”

Dr Bousted added the Government could end up pushing the R-rate, one of its key tests for lockdown rules, above one, allowing to virus to spread “exponentially”.

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