Schools in parts of Yorkshire told they may need to cancel Nativity plays as part of Covid measures

Schools in parts of Yorkshire have been told they may need to cancel nativity plays or move them online at short notice as part of coronavirus contingency measures.

File photo dated 10/12/20 of year 2 Pupils at Manor Park School and Nursery in Knutsford, perform their Christmas nativity play. (PA)

It comes as the number of Omicron variant cases reached 32 in the UK – but none have yet been identified in Yorkshire and Humber.

The Yorkshire Post is aware of at least one primary school in Yorkshire that has told parents and guardians they will not be able to attend Christmas plays, specifically citing growing concerns over the Omicron variant.

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Boris Johnson’s Government is advising against cancellations – with Children’s Minister Will Quince saying it was “deeply regrettable” that some nativity plays have been cancelled across the country.

But school union the NAHT said headteachers are “caught between a rock and a hard place” over cancellation decisions, as they weigh up varying advice from local and central government and the opinions of parents.

Official Government advice is that “if schools or early years settings have particularly high levels of Covid-19, local directors of public health may suggest that they don’t hold gatherings, to reduce transmission”.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council has told schools they should consider standing down performances or moving them online if they have stepped up contingency measures relating to the virus, with the ultimate possibility that shows may need to be postponed or cancelled.

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In common with other local authorities across Yorkshire, they say the decision on whether an event should take place or not would ultimately come down to the headteacher. It comes as there was mounting pressure on Boris Johnson to explain the circumstances around an apparent Christmas party that was held in Downing Street last year, despite London being under strict rules.

Meanwhile in North Yorkshire, the Director of Public Health has warned that the local authority may request festive events be suspended if Covid circumstances require it, although they have not issued a blanket ban.

Louise Wallace said: “We have sent written guidance to schools on how to risk assess activities, which would include festive events.

“School leaders and governors know what is right for their schools and therefore at this time we have not issued a blanket instruction not to hold Christmas events.

“However as part of our Covid-19 outbreak management support working with individual schools, we might advise against particular events, depending on the circumstances.”

The Prime Minister is facing increasing scrutiny over his own Christmas activities last year, after it was reported that two parties were held in Downing Street during November and December last year, when there were restrictions on social gatherings.

Mr Johnson told the House of Commons yesterday that all Covid rules were adhered to at all times.

But according to reports in the Daily Mirror yesterday, Mr Johnson and Downing Street staff broke Covid rules by attending two gatherings during the festive season in 2020.

The paper said the Prime Minister gave a speech at a packed leaving do for a senior aide last November when the country was in the midst of the second lockdown.

Members of his No 10 team then held their own festive party on December 18.

London was under Tier 3 restrictions which meant it was illegal to mix indoors with anybody outside of a bubble or household.

In each case, it has been reported that dozens of people were present, and the BBC spoke to a source present at the December event who claimed that party games were played and food and drink served.

The Prime Minister’s press secretary told reporters: “We don’t recognise this account, as we’ve said Covid rules have been followed at all times.”