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Schools failing to implement Covid safety measures

07 September 2020

SCHOOLS AND colleges in Scotland are failing to follow essential safety measures on physical distancing, cleaning, hand hygiene and dealing with suspected cases of COVID-19, a survey by NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union, has found.

No teachers responding to the snapshot survey of their experiences since the reopening of their school or college since the start of the new academic year were able to say that pupils in their school were always following physical distancing and only 5% said adults in their school are always keeping a two metre distance from others. Just 12% said managers in their school are always modelling and reinforcing messages on physical distancing.

Working with younger pupils and pupils with additional support needs, as well as class sizes and space constraints in schools were cited as the main barriers to consistently maintaining physical distancing.

Nearly half (46%) said arrangements for cleaning in their school were not adequate and just over half (51%) said arrangements rely on teachers and other staff who are not trained as cleaners undertaking cleaning themselves.

48% said access to PPE in their school was inadequate and 15% said they did not have access to soap and water to clean their hands.

Only just over half (51%) said their school has an effective protocol which is being followed at all times for dealing with suspected Covid cases and 61% said their school has no measures in place to deal with pupils with deliberately put others at risk with their behaviour.

Two thirds (66%) said their levels of anxiety around work are high or very high, rising to 82% of extremely vulnerable teachers. Nearly half (48%) said they feel unsafe or very unsafe in their workplace, rising to 64% of extremely vulnerable teachers. 

Nearly two thirds (63%) said they were not confident they would be provided with the necessary time, support and resources to cope with working during the pandemic.

NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said, “It is deeply concerning that significant numbers of teachers are reporting a widespread failure to implement the essential safety measures designed to control the spread of Coronavirus in schools or colleges.

“Ensuring that schools not only reopen safely, but stay open will require detailed attention to the arrangements in schools for ensuring health and safety during the pandemic.

“With increases in the number of cases of COVID-19 in Scotland in recent weeks, it is extremely important that school and college employers and the Government ensure they have robust protocols in place to check and review safety arrangements and ensure that essential procedures are being followed by all pupils and staff.

“The Scottish Government and school employers have a duty to listen to and address teachers’ safety concerns.”

Jane Peckham, NASUWT National Official Scotland, said, “The survey highlights the challenge of ensuring that physical distancing, PPE and effective cleaning measures are implemented fully if pupils and adults are to remain safe.

“If these provisions are not being robustly adhered to and enforced in every school and college, the introduction of masks will not be a panacea to prevent further outbreaks of COVID-19 of the type we have already seen linked to schools since the start of term.”