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Keep children safe

On 19 August, Government wrote to families once classed as especially vulnerable to Covid to say it no longer considers them vulnerable and telling them to attend school – despite the absence of adequate, and in many cases any, protection for them.

Schools might well now be the least safe institution in the country. Alone, we believe, they do no contact tracing. Face mask use is discouraged. The Government’s own expert advisors, SAGE, consider it “highly likely” that there will be “exponential increases” of Covid in school-age children when schools reopen. And the world’s largest study has found that as many as one in seven children who get Covid will suffer long Covid.

Parents who are frightened of what this means for their kids or vulnerable family members face fines or prosecution if they keep their kids at home until schools are made safe. And schools or local authorities, worried about attendance figures, can bully vulnerable families into deregistering children. The only way out for families is to risk the health of children.

We don’t think this state of affairs is lawful – and it is certainly not right.

We will write to Gavin Williamson, the Minister, asking him to issue guidance that protects vulnerable children and families. We will make the same request of a sample of local authorities and schools. If those letters do not draw adequate responses we will begin court proceedings to ensure compliance with the law.

Good Law Project has commissioned written legal advice from leading educational specialists Fiona Scolding QC and Yaaser Vanderman. The advice is available here.

The cases we bring will adhere to the principles set out in that advice. The solicitors in the case will be Simpson Millar whom Good Law Project instructed in its successful action to protect A-Level students. These cases will be crowdfunded.

If you are in a position to donate to support the legal actions, you can do so here:

We have no magic wand that can make the problems go away. Plainly we want children back in school. But the transition to a world with Covid is complex. It will take time and sensitivity. And what we want in the meantime is for Governments, local authorities and schools to support the reasonable assessments of loving families of what is in the interests of their children and other vulnerable family members.

What cannot happen – but what Government seems determined should happen – is that we pretend we live in a world without Covid. We won’t allow the health of vulnerable families to be sacrificed on the altar of politics.

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Every single penny that we receive makes a huge difference to our ability to hold those in power to account and demand a better, fairer future.

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