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Teachers’ union rep says members have concerns about reopening of schools

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REOPENING schools could pose a number of professional challenges for teachers and students, such as the issuance of PPE and social distancing requirements, a spokesperson for the National Education Union has said.

School image. (28255355)

The union also strongly believes that class sizes will have to be reduced for safety reasons in the early stages of reopening.

Sean McManus said that NEU members were aware of community concerns about reopening schools safely and said the union fully expected to be involved in discussions with Education, Sport & Culture alongside other stakeholders to ensure the project goes smoothly.

‘NEU members have drawn attention to a series of professional concerns relating to the implications of Covid-19 for formal education.

‘These concerns include the requirement for appropriate PPE equipment, the very real difficulties associated with ensuring social distancing, especially in our primary and special schools and on school transport, and the unrealistic workload implications of having to combine the preparation, delivery and assessment of distance learning with the increasing impact of school-based teaching and learning,’ Mr McManus said.

Union members want to know whether additional staffing and specific Covid-19 related training will be provided to help them accommodate the requirements of social distancing and to minimise risk.

At a Covid-19 briefing last week, the chief executive of the States of Guernsey, Paul Whitfield, said that more information regarding schools reopening would be announced some time this week.

Mr Whitfield also said that extending the school term or changing term dates was highly unlikely.

While it has not yet been determined how or when Guernsey’s students will return to school, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a national address that the UK would adopt a phased reopening of schools with pupils in reception, Year 1 and Year 6 returning initially.

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Students facing exams, such as years 10 and 12, were also more likely to return to school sooner.

The Prime Minister said that students could return as early as June, although the plans have been criticised by some teaching unions as dangerous.

Denmark has taken a different approach, with students cocooned into groups of about a dozen to prevent widespread contact.

A staggered return to school and frequent planned hand-washing sessions have made the plan possible.

Zach Coffell

By Zach Coffell
News reporter

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