Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT teachers union, has called on the government to take further action on school safety in light of the increased risk posed by the new variant of the virus.
- Permit schools to move to remote learning for all pupils, except those deemed to be vulnerable or the children of key workers, in the highest tier areas;
- Publish new safety guidance for schools in light of the increased risk posed by the variant;
- Delay the return of pupils in January to enable schools to undertake new risk assessments and ensure they are compliant with any new measures in the revised national safety guidance;
- Introduce mandatory wearing of face coverings within school buildings;
- Give staff working in schools priority access to the Covid vaccine;
- Ensure that staff in high risk and vulnerable groups are able to work from home pending further review of the situation.’
He continues: ‘The NASUWT is clear that schools can only remain open to all pupils where it is safe for them to do so …
‘It is increasingly clear that the Covid-safety advice you have issued previously to the sector may no longer be sufficient, not least given that it does not take into account the new risks posed to schools and colleges.’
He adds: ‘We trust that you will agree that teachers cannot teach and children cannot learn where their health or safety is at risk.
‘That risk is increasing and will continue to do so unless appropriate action is taken immediately to ensure that schools and colleges do not contribute to the spread of the virus.
‘Without an urgent and effective programme of national action and measures to demonstrate that the government is taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety of education provision during the pandemic, there is a real risk that fewer staff will be available.’
Roach concludes: ‘Given the urgency of the situation, I trust that you will consider the matters raised in this letter to be of the utmost priority.
‘The NASUWT stands ready to work with you in the interests of children, young people and the workforce in schools and colleges.
‘I look forward to hearing from you.’