Kent schools warned to expect closures, “lockdowns” & food shortages in wake of no-deal Brexit

Kent County Council has advised teachers and pupils on what to expect if Britain crashes out of the EU in March, which it expects will cause huge customs-related traffic jams – which are likely to negatively affect air quality.

The advice includes “possible lockdowns”, disrupted exams, and more “unaccompanied asylum seeking children” arriving in the area.

Under a section headed “Potential challenges to schools and communities” schools are advised to “consider planning for possible lockdown if air quality deteriorates”.

The six-page document also warns road safety will slide because of traffic and the “impatience of drivers”.

It warned locals to “consider road safety with the increased traffic and impatience of drivers”.

The guidance offered in the briefing note also claims there is a possibility of an increased number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children and migrants arriving in Kent.

It claimed more migrants would arrive “as a consequence of the increased opportunity afforded by congestion on the continent”.

Headteachers are also advised to “be mindful of possible disruption” caused by pupil absences and “even the delivery of examination results”.

KCC says headteachers may need to consider closing completely or partially in the event of staff being unable to travel.

But it recommends sites limit the likelihood of closing by encouraging staff to find alternative ways of getting to work – including walking or cycling.

It suggests schools may be hit by logistical delays “causing possible supply-side disruption resulting in changes in maintaining service delivery including fuel food medicines and contractors”.

The guidance says the impact of Brexit on Kent is likely to be greater than elsewhere and “disruption could continue for up to several months”.

Locations near the M20 and M2 and A2 could be affected more than others and the initial impact would be restricted to “staff and pupil delays”.

One headteacher said schools would use common sense to respond to any disruption but it would be difficult to deal with staff shortages.

Paul Luxmoore, chief executive of the Coastal Academies Trust, which runs five academies in east Kent, said: “We have quite a large number of staff who live outside Thanet – such as Canterbury – and journeys to school might well be disrupted.

“How we are supposed to plan for this, God knows. We’ll deal with it if it happens.”

In December the council published a 17-page report on the challenges a “no deal” Brexit could result in.

It warned: “An inability to travel around the county may have a direct impact on KCC’s delivery of statutory services.”

Recent figures released by the council show that the number of child asylum seekers arriving in Kent has declined significantly, falling to 171, the lowest figure for five years.

Councillor Trudy Dean, opposition Liberal Democrat spokesman, said: “I think some of the recommendations on the challenges schools and teachers face are self-evident.

“It could be like a snow emergency but over an extended time that lasts for several months.

“Some of the issues do seem remote but there are real ones around transport, delivery of fuel and school meals.

“I imagine the number of schools that will be affected by air quality will be relatively small.”

She said it was too early to consider cancelling school trips as “no-one knows what the reaction will be”.

By Grainne Cuffe and Paul Francis

It’s time to stop listening to the Brexit hypocrites

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