Fight for safe schools and stand up for young people’s futures

The Young Communist League has issued a statement following the defeat of the Tory Government plans to fully reopen schools in January 2021 despite dangerously unsafe levels of infection from COVID-19 in Britain.

The latest debacle over the reopening of schools despite the unsafe levels of COVID-19 infection in Britain is just another example of Tory Government incompetence and mismanagement, part of a long list of bungles that has prioritised profit and so-called “business as usual” over our education and jobs, our lives and futures.

According to the Government’s own figures, at least 80,000 people in Britain have now died from COVID-19, with the real figure likely to be far higher. Infection and transmission rates are now at record levels and governments across Britain are implementing new lockdown measures.

Despite this, the Government is continuing an ideologically motivated battle with the trade unions and British working people to keep schools open, claiming they are protecting the interests of students, whereas in fact their interests and livelihoods are being put at risk.

This is despite the fact that the reopening of schools had played a major role in this current spike and the planned reopening in January 2021 had threatened to aggravate it even more. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has already warned that school pupils “tend to have a wide transmission circle which can endanger parents and grandparents”.

Many schools are in fact partially open, operating on a minimal capacity to provide care and education for children of key workers and vulnerable pupils, while the vast majority of teachers and pupils are working safely from home.

The YCL calls on the youth of Britain to stand up and fight for a safe return to education as well as the safeguarding of our futures from the dangers of Government mismanagement. We express our solidarity with school staff who are being forced to stand up against Government negligence in the interests of health and safety.

Young people will stand shoulder to shoulder with school staff in this battle. We need guarantees about our education and exams and a real national strategy for blended and online learning that involves and listens to teachers, schools, parents and young people, applauding the work towards this that many school staff have already done with little to no Government support.

Above all else, we need a strategy that protects the lives of young people, our families and working people, and puts an end to the unnecessary uncertainty and damage to people’s jobs and livelihoods. This should include the continued closure of non-essential workplaces with protections for those workers.

Over 400,000 members attended a National Education Union online briefing on 3 January 2021, the largest meeting in trade union history, highlighting the strength of feeling among teachers and parents across Britain.

This combined and organised expression of solidarity has led to the defeat of the Government over what they initially planned: a disorganised and life-threatening complete reopening of schools.

The YCL encourages our members, school pupils and young people to support this movement by refusing to attend unsafe schools and lessons and by organising with their classmates to do the same. Pupils and their families should send messages of support to school staff as they keep unsafe schools closed and provide online learning.

Britain’s young communists are calling for:

  • Continued closure of all schools (except for key worker and vulnerable pupils) until there has been a significant reduction in COVID-19 infections and transmission rates.
  • Guarantees that British and devolved Governments will consult and obtain agreement with education trade unions and independent scientific advisors before moving to reopen schools – and only doing so when and where it is safe to do so.
  • Online learning to be implemented for all students across Britain immediately with Government funding and support to be put in place to ensure all students have access to IT resources and school staff are able to implement this.
  • Guaranteed meals across Britain for all children affected by closures who request them, without means testing.
  • Guaranteed fair assessments for students across Britain affected by lockdown and school closures agreed in consultation with education trade unions and student unions.

Neither the pandemic, nor the reckless capitalist system that fails to protect us, will stand in the way of our futures.

Conquer your future!

Fight for safe schools and guarantees for our education!

Executive Committee
Young Communist League

10 January 2021
London, Britain