Top Tory says schools should ‘let cribs play’ despite fear of covid


Transport Minister Grant Shapps said people should gather at Christmas and said schools should allow holiday celebrations

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Grant Shapps says the crib should be played on

Top Tory said the school crib should “play” this Christmas despite growing fears of the covid.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps insisted that people should gather this Christmas – and said holiday celebrations in schools should be allowed.

It comes with reports that some schools have banned parents from attending birth games or holiday celebrations in person due to virus concerns.

The emergence of a worryingly new version in South Africa of Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel has sparked panic among experts as flights have been suspended from six South African countries.

No cases have been discovered in the UK so far, but the head of the British Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Dr. Susan Hopkins said it’s possible the strain is already here.

Asked if schools should be allowed to stage cribs, Mr Shapps told LBC: “Let cribs play, it’s my opinion.

“We didn’t go through two, now three rounds of vaccinations and everything else that we had to spend again last Christmas when we couldn’t get together as we should, in numbers as we should, with friends and family.



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“So, of course, there will no doubt be steps taken to make it as safe as possible, ventilation and the rest. Yes, people should gather.”

School Secretary Robin Walker said end-of-semester performances and the nursery are an “important tradition” as he urged teachers to allow them to move on.

He told the PA: “I want schools to continue to work with parents in the most constructive way possible.

“Of course, where they can safely continue, things like cribs and end-of-term performances are really important and a good way to do that. I’d like to see as much as possible ahead.”

Asked if it was wrong for schools to give up personal holiday events, Walker said, “I think it’s good if these important traditions like they can be preserved.”

But he added: “Of course, I understand that schools will feel they need to take extra precautions, especially when it comes to adults coming to school and need to be able to look at their local circumstances.

“They need to be able to work with local directors of public health who will have a feel for the local situation. And I respect that this will be different in different parts of the country.”

James Bowen, director of policy for NAHT, said: “School crèches are a special opportunity for students, parents and staff. Schools want nothing more than to have a full hall of families enjoying the children putting on their holiday show.

“However, schools have so many things to balance when deciding what to do this year. They deal with a variety of local government advice, central government advice and a wide range of parental opinions – they are really caught between a rock and a hard place.

“Schools will listen carefully to the advice given by public health teams and local authorities and take appropriate action based on that advice.”

Geoff Barton, secretary general of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said Christmas activities are an important part of school life, but covid-related issues remain.

“However, leaders will be realistic about the important challenges they continue to face in tackling the disruptions in normal school life caused by coronavirus and will try to be flexible in managing the risks it poses by attracting family members to the school environment to participate in performances, ”he said.

“They will also pay attention to the challenges posed by more staff absences than usual.

“Some may be reluctant to cancel shows, but technology, which has played such an important role in education during the pandemic, also offers schools the opportunity to stage virtual shows.

“While this is not a substitute for personal observation of young people, it means that the show can continue for many schools.”

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