Cllr Chantal, 29, said the government "had a lot to feel shameful over its handling of this pandemic". (Credit: Nottingham City Council, modified by Olimpia Zagnat)

By Olimpia-Constanta Zagnat

Nottingham Councilor criticises government’s handling of the pandemic as schools are due to open next month according to Boris Johnson’s last announcement.

Cllr Chantal of St Ann’s says she doesn’t “trust the government to get it right” and the decision of reopening schools should be based on the opinion of publich health and school staff.

Speaking to the House of Commons on January 27, the PM said that schools will no longer be able to open after the February half term, but that he hopes they will be able to go back by March 8.

He said: “We all want to be able to reopen schools when we can be sure it will not cause a huge surge in the disease.

“We need to be sure the vaccine rollout is continuing to be successful.”

Mr Johnson revealed that the Government will set out its plans for reopening schools and ‘getting the economy moving’ from February 22.

However, Cllr Chantal Lee, also a mum to a 4-year-old, said children’s education has been overlooked by the government.

Ms Chantal chose to speak as a single parent who experienced the difficulties caused by the pandemic in the last year and not necessarily in her capacity as a councillor.

She said: “I think when talking about schools reopening it is important to remember that for thousands of teachers, support staff, lunchtime supervisors, school drivers and more schools have been open for vulnerable and key worker children.

“I believe that children should be in school and I say that as a single parent to a four-year-old who I was very hesitant about sending back to school and really worried about the implications of doing.”

Cllr Lee is also a member of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee, where she contributes to discussions relevant to the wellbeing and safeguarding of children and young people.

Speaking about Boris Johnson’s latest announcement, she said that children’s education should be a priority during these uncertain times.

Cllr Lee added: “I’ve seen the impact on her living through two lockdowns, I don’t believe that being at home without any interaction with other children is healthy.

“However schools absolutely should only open more widely when it is safe to do so, when school staff and multigenerational families and those with underlying health conditions can send their children out to school, safe in the knowledge that they aren’t putting their lives at risk by doing so.”

Cllr Lee criticised government’s handling of the pandemic, saying that other aspects have been prioritised while children weren’t able to go to school.

She said: “I believe that our government had a lot to feel shameful over its handling of this pandemic.

“And I believe that part of that was opening pubs and offering eat out to help out deals when children hadn’t been able to return to education widely.

“That should absolutely be the priority of the government this time around and I want to see the health, wellbeing and education of children put before the reopening of anything else.”