THE DEPUTY leader of the council says the city cannot take a lower Covid infection rate for "granted" after the government set out a roadmap out of lockdown.

Councillor Hannah Clare said cases in the city are "volatile" and that further potential variants of Covid-19 could "dramatically" change things.

It comes after the Prime Minister announced that all pupils in all years can go back to the classroom from March 8.

The four-stage plan could see England’s coronavirus restrictions finally lifted by June 2.

Councillor Clare, the chairwoman of the children, young people and skills committee, said schools in the city need more support if they are to navigate the pandemic.

She said: "We have always been clear that we want children to be back in school - but only when the community is protected.

The Argus:

“We will support our city’s schools as they continue to navigate the health crisis.

“However, we are clear that the government must use the time between now and March 8 wisely, to help put much stronger Covid-19 measures in place.

“While Covid-19 rates in the city have recently fallen, we simply cannot take a lower rate of infection for granted. Cases in the city are volatile and virus variants could dramatically change things.

“There is much more the government needs to do for schools. This includes vaccination for staff, adequate ventilation, continued access to tests and more.

READ MORE >> Brighton councillor slams government over school closures

“We’ve also been clear that after years of cuts to school budgets, our local schools desperately need sufficient funding to manage the challenges of the pandemic.

“The government must urgently confirm what their plans are to help our education settings tackle the virus.

“In the coming days, we will be working with schools in the city as well as our public health teams to understand the impact of any new guidance for staff, pupils and their families.”

In January, Brighton and Hove City Council leader Phelim Mac Cafferty wrote to headteachers and advised them not to reopen as coronavirus infections continue to soar in January.

That was despite the Prime Minister’s advice that primary schools in Brighton and Hove should stay open.

Councillor Mac Cafferty sent a letter to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson over closures.

And within hours headteachers sent emails to parents to tell them pupils will be kept out of classrooms and will be learning from home.