NASUWT: “PM’s announcement does little to assuage teachers’ concerns”

Responding to last night’s statement from the Prime Minister, Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union, said:

“The Prime Minister’s statement that it would be “madness” to risk a second spike in transmission of the Coronavirus highlights the need for extreme caution. Regrettably, the Prime Minister’s announcement is likely to provoke confusion and does not address the genuine concerns that have been raised by teachers.

“The Prime Minister’s announcement lacks the clarity of statements issued by Ministers in Scotland and Wales who have reaffirmed the key ‘stay at home’ message. The Government’s announcement that schools in England might reopen to more children from 1 June risks thousands of schools rushing to make decisions about how best to safeguard the health and safety of children and staff in the absence of any clear national guidance.

“It is baffling that following the Government’s decision to close all schools on public health grounds that the Government now expects individual schools to work out for themselves whether or not it will be safe to reopen on 1 June and potentially put at risk the health of children, staff and the public. With no date yet set for when the Government’s guidance will be forthcoming, school leaders in England are being placed in an extremely difficult position of being asked to draw up plans affecting lives of children and their teachers.

“These announcements will do little to assuage teachers’ concerns about the premature reopening of schools. The Government must with the utmost urgency address teachers’ concerns or expect to lose the goodwill of the profession. Unless and until the Government can demonstrate that schools will be safe for staff and children, all schools should continue to limit their opening only to vulnerable children and to children of key workers.

“The NASUWT will continue to press the Government on the need for clear guidance and stringent and enforceable health and safety risk assessment measures to be in place in every school prior to relaxing the current restrictions. The UK Government’s message to be responsible and to ‘stay alert’ will ring hollow with teachers who are still being denied access to appropriate PPE and who have been given no clear guidance about how social distancing can be practiced in school settings.

“Notwithstanding the Government’s five tests, the bottom line is that no teacher or child should be expected to go into schools until it can be demonstrated that it is safe for them to do so.”

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