Education unions’ joint statement on the safe reopening of schools
Unions with members in the education sector are today (Monday) publishing a joint statement on the safe reopening of schools.
Today’s statement is signed by GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, UNISON and Unite.
Full text of today’s statement:
The government’s chaotic handling of the opening of schools has caused confusion for teachers, school staff and parents alike. Bringing all pupils back into classrooms while the rate of infection is so high is exposing education sector workers to serious risk of ill-health and could fuel the pandemic.
Unions have called for a pause in the reopening of schools for anyone other than vulnerable children and children of key workers, and a move to remote learning for all while Covid-Secure working arrangements are reviewed. All school staff continuing to work in schools should be given priority access to Covid-19 vaccinations.
Instead of casually asserting that schools are safe, the Prime Minister should sit down with unions to discuss a joint approach to ensuring safe working arrangements in all schools and prioritising enabling all pupils have the equipment and access they need to receive a high standard of remote learning until the safety of them and the staff in their school can be guaranteed.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government’s own advice from SAGE makes it clear that opening schools to all pupils now risks increasing the infection rate. That’s in no-one's interests.
“Instead of creating chaos for parents and exposing workers to risks, the Prime Minister should be talking to trade unions about what steps are needed to make sure all schools are Covid-Secure.”
- A plan to ensure schools are safe for staff and pupils must include:
reviewing risk assessments and Covid-Secure plans in schools
prioritising school staff who keep working to allow vulnerable children and children of key workers to attend school
providing digital equipment and support to pupils who need it to ensure they can access high quality remote education.
SAGE 74 minutes: Coronavirus (Covid-19) response, 22 December 2020 (publishing.service.gov.uk) show the scientific advice suggests opening up schools risks increasing the infection rate: It is highly unlikely that measures with stringency and adherence in line with the measures in England in November (i.e. with schools open) would be sufficient to maintain R below 1 in the presence of the new variant. R would be lower with schools closed, with closure of secondary schools likely to have a greater effect than closure of primary schools. It remains difficult to distinguish where transmission between children takes place, and it is important to consider contacts made outside of schools.
- Please contact union press offices for broadcast bids or further comment:
GMB: firstname.lastname@example.org, 07958 156846
NAHT: email@example.com, 07970 907730
NASUWT: firstname.lastname@example.org, 07785 463119
NEU: email@example.com, 07879 480061
UNISON: firstname.lastname@example.org, 07778 158175
Unite: email@example.com, 07768 693940
- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.
TUC press office
020 7467 1248
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