With the Government so far refusing to heed calls from teaching unions to tighten restrictions further in schools, the unions are fighting back, telling their members to ignore Government guidance and introduce stricter Covid rules anyway. The Telegraph has the story.
The UK’s largest teacher union has issued a “safety checklist” for schools, saying its recommendations are designed to “slow the spread” of the virus.
But the National Education Union’s advice – which includes a return of bubbles and staggered break times – has been described by parents as a “pandemic straitjacket” for children.
The Department for Education (DfE) has told headteachers they may need to combine classes to redeploy teachers to cover lessons in order to keep schools open if staff sickness spirals out of control.
However, the union briefing document says that classes should not be combined since this would “increase virus transmission” and adds that teachers should not be “routinely expected” to cover classes, advising that if they are this should be “urgently raised” with their union.
The document is also backed by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers as well as Unite, GMB and Unison whose members include teaching assistants and other school staff.
Family groups and MPs have warned that this “inflexible and militant attitude” is likely to keep more children out of the classroom.
“It’s incredible to see these unions suggest something that goes so far beyond what the Government has required for schools,” said Liz Cole of the parent campaign group UsForThem. “This is desperately unfair to children and plunges them back into a pandemic straitjacket.”
The current Government guidance states that children should only be off school if they have tested positive or if they are showing Covid symptoms.
But the unions say that pupils should isolate if one of their family members has tested positive, and only return to school if they have received a negative PCR result.
“Where close contacts are unable to get hold of [lateral flow devices] due to supply issues, they should be supported to work from home for the isolation period,” it says.
Worth reading in full.
The news seems to confirm the thesis of Dr. Ben Irvine, that trade unions have played a central role in driving restrictions both at the start and throughout the pandemic.
On the theme of educational establishments going well beyond Government guidance in their enthusiasm for Covid precautions, a reader sent us this sorry tale of his child’s nursery in north west London.