Kent schools told to prepare for ‘lockdowns’ under ‘no-deal’ Brexit | Politics News

Schools in Kent have been advised to consider planning for “lockdowns” and “closures” in case of disruption following a “no-deal” Brexit.

A six-page document posted online by Kent County Council warns – if the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement – there would likely be a “period of disruption to many areas of life in Kent” and that “any impact could be greater here than elsewhere in the UK”.

Potential challenges listed by the council include severe road congestion because of increased border checks at the county’s ports, reduced air quality due to traffic jams, and the possibility of cyber attacks.

:: Closures

The first challenge expected for pupils and staff will be severe congestion should there be increases in border checks at Channel ports and the Eurotunnel.

The council predicts this could cause “closure or part closure” of schools due to staff shortages.

In its advice, the council says schools should consider “planning for additional security” in preparation for possible congested traffic nearby.

:: ‘Lockdown’ if air quality deteriorates

In a section detailing what preparations schools can take now, the council advises they consider “planning for possible lockdown if air quality deteriorates”.

Explaining the advice, Ian Watts, area education officer at the council, said: “Kent County Council acknowledge that if any schools are affected, the number is likely to be low.

“In the Brexit guidance we are not in any way intimating that a dynamic lockdown would be required that is similar to when an intruder may enter a school site.

“The term lockdown in relation to air quality really means that schools should perhaps consider limiting external movement around the school site if it is felt it may affect pupils and staff in any way.”



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:: Cyber attacks

In the document, the council also claims to have received advice from government that they may be affected by cyber attacks.

There was no explanation as to when or how the government advised such attacks would be more likely during a no-deal Brexit, and the council did not provide a comment when asked by Sky News.

:: Waste collection

Schools are also advised to introduce “more efficient waste management systems”, potentially in case rubbish collection becomes impossible because of road congestion.

Mr Watts said: “We have a duty to the families of Kent to ensure schools and other education settings do all they can to ensure continuity of provision, even in times of emergency or when circumstances change to an extent that the ability to maintain ‘normal’ provision is greatly reduced.

“It would be remiss to assume no impact.

“KCC does acknowledge that there may be no significant disruption and has been clear with schools of this possibility when issuing the guidance.”

The week following the UK’s scheduled exit date from the EU of 29 March is the last week of the Spring term for most Kent schools.

According to the document, the likely return date of 23 April could see day-to-day school management issues “considerably more disrupted”.

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