Kent schools told to prepare for Brexit ‘lock down’

PUBLISHED: 15:19 23 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:19 23 January 2019

Hundreds of trucks wait their turn to enter the port of Dover on the M20 at Folkestone, Kent. Photograph: David Giles/PA.

Hundreds of trucks wait their turn to enter the port of Dover on the M20 at Folkestone, Kent. Photograph: David Giles/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

A council has warned a no-deal Brexit could lead to schools having to close in the event of staff shortages or reduced air quality.

Kent County Council has also said that schools may even be forced into a “lock down” if anticipated traffic chaos in the county has a major impact on air quality.

A document issued by the Conservative-run council to schools has suggested traffic congestion may disrupt teaching and exams.

The guidance advises schools to “consider postponing off-site activities, such as pre-booked trips, residentials, travel to other events, sports matches”.

And it calls for schools in the area to “consider planning for possible lock down if air quality deteriorates” and “consider planning for additional security if congested traffic nearby”.

The doom-laden advice comes in an official council document called ‘Guidance to Kent Schools to plan for any logistical or organisational

challenges following the UK leaving the European Union on Friday, 29 March 2019’.

It tells schools: “If there is no agreement on a final deal, then a likely scenario is that the UK will simply leave the EU with no formal agreement in place.

“Although there will likely be last-minute fixes put in place to alleviate some of the challenges, the likelihood is that there will be a period of disruption to many areas of life in Kent.

“Kent’s position as host to Dover, Sheerness, Kent Thameside, Dartford crossing, Eurotunnel, two Eurostar stations, the M20, M25, M2/A2 and M26 might mean that any impact could be greater here than elsewhere in the UK.”

The council said it “considers that the disruption could continue for up to several months”.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, a champion of the anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain, said: “It is unbelievable that a Tory council is now having to seriously think about putting schools into lock down because of the impact of Brexit.

“The government can now read the impact of their botched Brexit plan on the most vulnerable students, as social workers cannot do their jobs in schools and medicines are held up in traffic jams.

“This is a damning indictment of the government’s handling of Brexit.”

The council’s document warns of “logistical delays causing possible supply-chain disruption, resulting in challenges in maintaining service delivery including food, fuel, medicines and essential contractors”.

And it adds there is “potential for increased numbers of migrants arriving in Kent as a consequence of the increased opportunity afforded by congestion on the Continent, including unaccompanied asylum-seeking children”.

Most Kent schools are on the Easter break for the first two weeks following March 29 and the council warns that the first week back, beginning April 23, “could be considerably more disrupted”.

It adds the council “has received advice from the Government that other parties may consider their own action during the period of disruption. This could include European industrial action, cyber attacks, etc.”

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