Leicester is to stay in lockdown after an increase in coronavirus cases, meaning schools will have to stay shut from Thursday. Parents of children who only just returned to school at the beginning of June say they are worried about their children’s education.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there had been “an unusually high incidence” of coronavirus among children in Leicester since increased testing began in the city 10 days ago.
He said schools were being closed to help slow the transmission of the disease.
At Launde Primary School in Oadby, a small town on the edge of Leicester but included within the lockdown boundary, parents were adjusting to the news.
Teresa Lander, 51, who has a child in Year 6, said the local lockdown was “a surprise and a bit upsetting” for parents and pupils.
“It’s worrying how much school they are missing, it’s a massive gap in their learning if they’re not in from March to September,” she said.
“They were having fun being back at school, it’s disappointing for them, but you’ve got to respect it.”
Liz Sharpe, 40, said the situation was “heartbreaking” for her daughter as this was her last year at the school.
“They’ve missed out on so much education and she’s off to secondary next year so has missed out on some big changes,” she said.
“They were so excited to come back. She was a little bit tearful, she wants to see her friends and her teachers.”
Magda Raszowska, whose five-year-old daughter Iman attends the same school, said the news was “frustrating”.
“It’s like we’re going back to March, that was the shocking thing,” she said.
“Closing schools, closing shops again. It’s scary, it just shows how a second wave can be not far off.
“Obviously safety comes first, I understand that, we all do. [But] it seems very strict. As the mayor said, has Leicester been singled out now they’re getting more cautious?”
School leaders have said they will do what they can to keep children learning and safe.
However, Inderjit Sandhu, the executive head of the Scholars Academy Trust, which runs the school, said she only learned of the lockdown via a BBC News alert on Monday night.
She said she was still emailing the local authority seeking more details at 21.50 BST.
“It was a surprise, we’d heard nothing whatsoever about it,” she said.
“I don’t know the right way to go about it, it’s all so new.
“We’ve got to keep everyone safe, if we follow the guidance we’re doing the right thing.
“It just shows how crazy it all is, but we’re still smiling.”
The government has said children of “critical workers” and those classed as vulnerable will still be able to attend lessons.
Naomi Grant, deputy head at the city’s Braunstone Frith Primary School, said these pupils had remained in its classrooms throughout the pandemic.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme closing its doors to a number of children it had welcomed back was “disappointing”, but said she was “keeping up to date with the news as much as I can”.
The school would work hard to ensure pupils are safe she added.
“Since the whole of lockdown our school has never been closed, we’ve just reopened to more children since 1 June,” she said.
“We’re really upset that we won’t be able to have as many children in school as we have been for the past four weeks.
“We’ve got such a detailed risk mitigation plan in place. At the minute it’s working for nearly 200 children. We’ll scale that down after Thursday, but we can scale it up as much as we need to as well.”