THE YORKSHIRE Party is calling for schools and colleges to switch to online learning a week before the Christmas holidays

The party says the safest way to 'save Christmas', is for campuses to be closed early.

Yorkshire Party Leader Bob Buxton said: “We don’t want another Christmas ruined by Covid, but nor do we want to put lives at further risk. If remote learning is used for the week before the school holidays, the last actual day in school will be Friday, December 10. This would increase the gap between schools and colleges closing and families meeting up with relatives across the country. Should the new variant and the overall risk turn out to be less threatening, we can reassess – but preparations need to be made now to facilitate this safer option, while still serving educational needs.”

“Since many younger people have not had the same opportunity to be vaccinated, it is not surprising that Covid spreads rapidly through schools and colleges. This measure could be even more effective than mask-wearing requirements announced at the weekend, which we encourage people to observe.”

He stressed:“We’re not calling for a full lockdown or any restriction on trade, but businesses should be encouraged to allow parents with childcare needs to work from home. Where that is not possible, some provision must remain to have children in schools, as with the children of keyworkers previously.”

“Other arrangements must be repeated too, such as the provision of free meals to those who qualify and help with IT resources. Hopefully, lessons have been learned and these provisions can be made more quickly, effectively and fairly.”

“School is incredibly important for children’s development and wellbeing, and so is visiting family. If we hope for the best but prepare for the worst, we can pursue a balanced, responsible approach to education and have a great Christmas.”

Dr Buxton, who serves on Rawdon Parish Council and teaches engineering apprentices in Bradford, made his call amid concerns over the new Covid variant Omicron.

On Saturday Boris Johnson announced new Covid rules following the discovery of the new variant in the UK.

The Prime Minister said: “It does appear Omicron spreads very readily and can be spread between people who are double vaccinated.”

The additional measures include returning travellers requiring a negative PCR test, face coverings to be worn in shops and on public transport and bolstering the booster roll-out.