Plan to keep schools safe during pandemic
16 November 2020
THE NASUWT has submitted a ten-point plan to the education ministers in the four nations of the United Kingdom to secure safe schools during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Teachers cannot teach and children cannot learn effectively where their health or safety is at risk.
The coronavirus pandemic has delivered an unprecedented impact on children’s education, highlighting the need for safe conditions for teaching and learning, without which there will be fewer teachers teaching and more pupils forced to spend time out of school whilst they self-isolate.
Governments and employers have a duty at all times, especially during this crisis, to do whatever it takes to ensure that, where they remain open to pupils, schools/colleges are, above all, safe places for teaching and learning.
The plan calls on ministers to:
1. Demonstrate that they are following the scientific evidence and advice.
2. Strengthen the guidance to schools and colleges on ensuring COVID-safe and COVID-secure working practices.
3. Secure the updating and publication of health and safety risk assessments and equality impact assessments by school and college employers.
4. Publish weekly data on positive cases of COVID-19 infections of school/college staff and pupils by local government area
5. Ramp up inspection and enforcement measures in schools and colleges, including more comprehensive use of spot checks and visits by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
6. Take swift action to protect public health in the event of an outbreak.
7. Protect vulnerable teachers and support staff and pupils.
8. Strengthen the guidance to insist on effective social distancing in schools/colleges.
9. Establish a national plan for remote education/blended and distance learning.
10. Provide significant additional financial support for schools and colleges urgently to ensure the safety of staff and pupils, including extra funding for cleaning, personal protective equipment (PPE) and supply teachers
NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said, “Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, the education of children and young people has been of paramount importance to the country as well as to members of the NASUWT. Teachers and headteachers have worked tirelessly throughout the year to ensure that every child has access to the highest quality education provision and support, even during the enforced national lockdown which saw the closure of schools during the spring and summer.
“With the full reopening of schools this autumn, teachers and headteachers have once again demonstrated their commitment to children’s education. As levels of Coronavirus transmission have increased rapidly in the wider community, teachers, headteachers and support staff have worked valiantly to keep schools open safely.
“However, with a second wave of virus transmission, teachers’ safety concerns cannot be overlooked. Teachers and headteachers are increasingly reporting high levels of stress and fatigue as a consequence of trying to maintain a covid-safe environment in schools and colleges. Our members report that they are struggling to cope with significant additional workload pressures which are impacting adversely on their ability to continue to provide the education that all children and young people deserve.
“It is evident that teachers cannot teach and children cannot learn effectively where their health or safety is at risk. The Coronavirus pandemic has delivered an unprecedented impact on children’s education. We believe that without an urgent and effective programme of national action and measures to ensure the safety and sustainability of education provision during the pandemic, there is very a serious risk that fewer teachers will be available to continue teaching and that more pupils will be forced to spend time out of school whilst they self-isolate.
“The NASUWT reminds Governments and employers that they have a duty at all times, especially during this crisis, to do whatever it takes to ensure that schools and colleges are, above all, safe places for teaching and learning.
“To that end, the NASUWT has endorsed a 10-point programme of measures to enable the safe and sustainable provision of teaching and learning, which we strongly urge Ministers to consider and act upon.
“These measures are designed to protect the education of children and young people whilst ensuring that our schools and colleges can continue to operate safely in the interests of children and young people and the education workforce, whilst the country continues to take the wider measures necessary in response to the pandemic threat and in order to protect public health.”