Silent night: Some Christmas nativities cancelled due to coronavirus while others get creative
Report by Katie Cole
Christmas nativities are a tradition many parents and grandparents have for the second year in a row missed out on.
While the Government said school and nurseries could host festive shows this year, the rise in Covid cases means many have been cancelled or are being attended virtually.
Some councils in the North East have advised against having parents on site. Others have allowed audiences to attend albeit with restrictions, including limiting just one parent or carer into performances.
Government guidance says it is down to headteachers or nursery managers to decide, while advising schools to take steps to improve fresh air flow in the areas where gatherings are taking place.
If there are lots of Covid cases in a community, the Government says local directors of public health may suggest gatherings are cancelled to reduce transmission.
At Castle View Nursery in Chester-le-Street the pre-school children performed outdoors in the nursery grounds.
ITV News Tyne Tees spoke with parents at the nursery, who praised the teachers for staging a performance.
"It's just like Christmas has come early," added teacher Ali Huddleston.
Northumberland and Newcastle councils are among those who have advised against parents attending.
A Newcastle City Council spokesperson said: “We’ve asked schools to consider whether events, such as nativity performances, could be held remotely rather than in person in response to concerns about the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
A Northumberland Council spokesperson said: "Northumberland schools have been advised to think about the measures they have in place for school events such as performances, and are advised not to invite external visitors, including parents and carers into schools for these occasions.
The National Union of Head Teachers has expressed frustration over the Government leaving schools to decide for themselves whether to stage nativities.
Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of NAHT, said: "School leaders have already been making difficult decisions about nativities, based on the guidance they have received from local health teams.
"Where this means cancelling nativities, or parents being unable to attend, many schools will explore other options such as online-only performances.
"The government’s constant pressure on nativities have been deeply unhelpful and are actively creating unnecessary discord.
"School leaders have been working for many weeks with their local health teams to do the right thing for their communities," Mr Whiteman continued.
"Ministers would do well to remember that local risks do not always mirror the Westminster bubble. At a time when we have seen a significant fall in weekly pupil attendance figures asa result of Covid, this is looking increasingly out of touch with reality.
"The objective is to keep children in school not pander to the PR needs of Westminster."