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Online lessons ‘could return’ if teachers can’t get to school over petrol crisis

Headteachers have been writing to parents and lamenting online about how petrol supply issues could disrupt schooling in coming weeks, if staff were stuck at home.

Headteachers have said they are concerned about the affect of teachers’ ability to get to work in coming weeks

School heads are warning students could be forced to go back to online learning if teachers can’t get to school as a result of the petrol crisis.

Schools are now reporting a potential return to online lessons if teachers can’t get to work.

Headteachers have said on social media they were concerned about the coming weeks.

One took to Twitter to say the situation was turning into a problem. She didn’t have any fuel herself, she said, while all the stations in her area were out of diesel.

Most of her teachers commute further than ten miles to work, she added.



A line of vehicles queue to fill up at a Tesco petrol station in Camberley, west of London, yesterday
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)




An early years teacher said she drove 11 miles to work, with a stop at her son’s childminder. Without her car, she would have to leave far earlier to catch a 6.03am bus and still wouldn’t arrive at school until 8.30am.

A school in Surrey wrote to parents saying: “The ability of staff and pupils to get to school may be compromised and there may also be issues with our food deliveries”.

Staff “sincerely” hoped this wouldn’t be the case, the message said, but would have to consider online learning if the situation worsened, reports The Times.







“Clearly, we have no desire to go back online so soon after the challenges of the last couple of years but we cannot exclude the possibility that it may be necessary. We will, of course, closely monitor the situation and will keep you fully informed.”

BP announced on Thursday evening that it was closing some pumps and rationing petrol and diesel because of a lack of lorry drivers, despite reassurances from the Government and sector experts that there was no shortage of fuel.

On Sunday BP said nearly a third of its British petrol stations had run out of the two main grades of fuel following a wave of panic-buying.

Downing Street suspended competition law in an attempt to get a grip of the shortages.

As the issue limits Brits’ movement around the country, companies are being challenged by unions to allow employees to work from home in an effort to conserve petrol.

Speaking to the Telegraph, general secretary of the GMB union Gary Smith said bosses should be showing a greater deal of flexibility with their staff, in a bid to ease strain on key workers who need to travel to their offices.



Schools have said they would have to consider online learning if the situation worsened
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Image:

Getty Images)




“The run on the forecourts is unnecessarily affecting frontline workers in our ambulance and home care services and the rising cost of energy will cause distress for the lowest paid households trying to make ends meet,” he said.

While schools in England were forced to shift online last year because of the pandemic, they have been encouraged to do everything possible to avoid closures this academic year.

Sue Gould, a primary school headteacher, said on Twitter that the petrol shortage could cause a problem for staffing.







She would use remote learning if it was not safe enough to open and the school didn’t have enough staff, she explained.

Other school staffers compared the situation to a snow day, when schools were not able to open due to bad weather.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said schools and support staff were working on contingency plans for staff who were unable to get petrol over the next few days.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, lamented the government didn’t seem able to make the right decisions on time to keep the country moving. It would be a “massive shame” if children’s education was once again disrupted due to a failure to anticipate what was plan to see, he added.









A Department for Education spokeswoman said the department was aware some petrol stations have had to temporarily close in response to spikes in demand.

However, she said this was not in response to a national shortage, adding that the government had released a package of measures to help ease temporary supply chain pressures.

This included an immediate increase in HGV testing, short-term visas for HGV drivers and new skills boot camps to train up thousands of new HGV drivers.




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