The trade union group UNISON has said that allowing schools to close early will halt the transmission of the Omicron variant. While the union has stopped short of demanding that schools be closed, it has called for more measures to be imposed on the classroom, such as mask mandates. The Express has the story.
Schools have been at the centre of countless restrictive measures over the past two years, with pupils suffering major disruption to their education thanks to decisions made by the Government and promoted by key unions. The emergence of the Omicron variant has reignited calls for measures that would further such disruption.
UNISON insists that schools should be allowed to close early “without the fear of Government criticism” to reduce the spread of the variant.
It has argued allowing schools to shut ahead of schedule in the run-up to the end of term would benefit both parents and teachers.
It said: “Allowing schools to close early this week would reduce the risk of Omicron transmission, make Christmas less stressful for families and give staff more time to get their boosters.”
UNISON claims to represent more education staff than any other U.K. trade union.
A spokesperson for the group told the Express that while “we don’t want to see schools close”, new measures are needed to prevent further disruption.
It has called for the return of face masks in secondary school classrooms, as well as the return of “bubbles”.
The union is also pushing ministers to send air filtration devices to all schools before the New Year to help temper the spread of the virus when – or if – pupils return to the classroom.
UNISON’s Head of Education, Mike Short, said in a statement: “Stopping the virus in its tracks and keeping pupils and communities safe should be a top priority.
“Action now will help cut family stress levels this Christmas.”
Short added that, along with the other measures proposed by the union, the return to schools after Christmas should be staggered.
He said: “Bubbles must come back, and pupils shouldn’t all return at once on the same day in January.”
This came as England’s Chief Medical Officer branded Omicron a “really serious threat”.
Chris Whitty told a press conference on Wednesday: “The how big a threat – there are several things we don’t know, but all the things that we do know are bad.”
Worth reading in full.