Brexit traffic fears prompt Maidstone school to teach online

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Maidstone Grammar School pupils will be taught online via Microsoft Teams for at least two days

A school in Kent is to teach pupils remotely for the first two days of the January term amid fears Brexit could cause "significant" road congestion.

Maidstone Grammar School headmaster Mark Tomkins said pupils would be taught online on 4 and 5 January.

He said: "We just don't know what is going to happen but it is vital we are prepared for all eventualities."

With the school situated close to the M20, Mr Tomkins said any disruption would have "a significant impact".

A spokesman for Kent County Council said it has asked the school to "review its decision".

The council issued guidance to all Kent schools, advising them to plan ahead in case of any Brexit-related disruption, including asking staff to consider alternative transport arrangements, but "did not anticipate or intend that any school should plan closures".

A group of MPs recently warned of the "risk of serious disruption and delay" at Channel crossings when the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.

The UK will no longer be a member of the single market or customs union, meaning new border controls and checks will be required.

Plans to tackle any resulting traffic problems have been developed by the Kent Resilience Forum.

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There are fears delays at the ports will cause long queues on Kent's roads

A number of locations have been earmarked for HGVs to be parked and Operation Brock, a specialised contra flow system on the M20, will also be used if needed.

But Mr Tomkins said any disruption would have "a significant impact on Maidstone and its surrounding area".

This might mean staff and students struggling to get to school "for a short period of time", he said, which could cause "capacity and health and safety issues".

While pupils are at home, he said the school would use the "short window" to assess the impact of any disruption.

"If there is significant disruption, we may then need to adjust the school day slightly for a period of time, or pupils may be welcomed back in stages" he suggested.

If there is no disruption, he said students would return to school on Wednesday, 5 January.

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