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Some Cambridgeshire schools to close for two days amid extreme heat warning

Some Cambridgeshire schools have confirmed that they will be closed on Monday and Tuesday (July 18-19) due to the forecast that temperatures could soar towards 40C.

The Met Office has issued its first ‘Red’ warning of extreme heat, predicting “population-wide adverse health effects” not limited to the vulnerable, causing “potential serious illness or danger to life”.

Some students will be asked to work from home (58016637)
Some students will be asked to work from home (58016637)

It has prompted some schools to ask pupils to work remotely for the two days.

In a message to parents, Victoria Hearn, principal of Impington Village College, said: “As you know, we have put in place a wide range of measures to help protect students since the initial amber warning was put in place, but due to the nature of our college buildings, we have no further measures at our disposal to protect students and staff in the face of the now very extreme conditions forecast next week. We have also received a number of parental requests to allow students to work at home to keep them safe.

“In light of this, we have taken the decision to ask students in all trust schools to study remotely on Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 July. Students will access lessons via Microsoft Teams for Lessons 1-5 only, with each lesson being 45 minutes in length. There will be no tutor time. The process will operate in exactly the same way as during the periods of remote learning during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The expectation is that students will return to school on Wednesday 20 July as normal.”

She added: “Should families be in a situation where it is impossible to keep students at home, we will accommodate them on site. We would like to keep this to an absolute minimum to ensure safety and comfort of students. They will work in computer rooms following the remote study resources along with students at home, with staff supervision, and should bring headphones.”

Impington Village College is part of the Eastern Learning Alliance, which also includes Chesterton Community College, Witchford Village College, Girton Glebe Primary and Downham Market Academy. All of the trust’s schools will be closed on Monday and Tuesday.

There is no temperature threshold in law at which schools or workplaces are obliged to close. Instead, the Workplace Regulations of 1992 mean employers have a duty to ensure that conditions are “reasonable”.

Jonathan Lewis, director of education at Cambridgeshire County Council
Jonathan Lewis, director of education at Cambridgeshire County Council

Jonathan Lewis, director of education at Cambridgeshire County Council, the local education authority, said: “As a local authority we have advised schools to do all they can to remain open with the appropriate adjustments to deal with the conditions.

“We have sent guidance to all schools outlining steps to take during periods of hot weather and including a heat checklist to help them take appropriate actions. We will continue to work closely with all schools during the current heatwave.”

Comberton Village College and Melbourn Village College, part of the CAM Academy Trust, have confirmed that they will follow county council and Department for Education advice, meaning they are currently due to open.

Cambridge already holds the unwelcome record of the UK’s record high temperature at 38.7 Celsius, recorded in the Botanic Garden in 2019.

[Read more: Cambridge Botanic Garden on how UK’s hottest-ever day was recorded]

Forecasters say that could be beaten on Monday or Tuesday, with unprecedented temperatures of 40C (104F) possible. The current Met Office forecast for Cambridge suggests temperatures of 35C on Monday and up to 37C on Tuesday.

Many commentators have pointed out that such extreme temperatures are likely to become more common as climate change continues to have an impact.

Jyoti Atri is the director of public health at Cambridgeshire County Council
Jyoti Atri is the director of public health at Cambridgeshire County Council

Cambridgeshire County Council’s director for public health, Jyoti Atri, said: “We’re urging people across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough for prepare for the extreme heat on Monday and Tuesday. Temperatures could be excessive and could pose a danger to health. Please follow guidelines on how to beat the heat, including keeping yourself hydrated and to find shade where possible when UV rays are strongest, between 11am and 3pm.

“People are asked to look out for others, especially the elderly, babies and young children. Those with heart, respiratory and serious health problems are more at risk and the heat can make these conditions worse. Babies and young children are also especially at risk, particularly when they are in pushchairs or car seats.”

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