Only fully open schools when it is safe to do so, says teachers’ union

RUSHING the re-opening of schools will inevitably result in putting people at unnecessary risk of contracting Covid-19 and increasing community spread, one teachers’ union has said.

School teacher (29223238)
School teacher (29223238)

The comment comes from the National Education Union following the States’ announcement that schools will re-open to small groups of vulnerable students and children of essential workers today.

Recognising the need for some children to have access to a safe space during half-term and the rest of term, Public Health has further filtered the criteria for students heading back to education settings in an attempt to limit numbers and reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

They will also be tested on arrival to the site.

A spokesperson for the NEU said: ‘Once again, island teachers and learning assistants have stepped forward to undertake additional responsibilities on behalf of our local community, thereby enabling critical workers to discharge their essential duties.’

The NEU and NASUWT teachers’ union welcomed the new, stricter criteria, with the latter saying they ‘appear to be sensible’.

Implementing a robust and continuing testing system, although demanding, confirms the role of those working in schools as being front-line staff in the fight against the pandemic and is expected to provide staff and pupils with confidence in the safe operation of the programme ahead of the vaccinations. Although normal lessons are not expected during the half-term period, the availability of a secure space staffed by suitably competent and experienced professionals will be reassuring to local families and the NEU said it continues to urge the politicians to follow the science so that schools are only fully reopened when it is safe to do so.

‘We have been supportive of the decisions made to date but are aware from looking elsewhere in the world that rushing a reopening will inevitably result in putting people at risk of unnecessarily contracting the virus and increasing community spread,’ the spokesperson said.

‘Teachers will also be using the week ahead to refine ongoing preparations for the effective delivery of the distance learning systems which are likely to be required for the duration of the Covid situation.

‘Local education unions have been working with the government and their advisers and will continue to do so for the benefit of all young people, education staff and the wider community.’

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