UNISON says a phased return in English schools – as in Scotland and Wales – would protect both pupils and staff.
UNISON has questioned the Westminster government’s plan for the reopening of all schools in England, announced by the Prime Minister this afternoon (Monday) and has urged a more cautious phased return for pupils and staff.
UNISON’s head of education Jon Richards said: “UNISON wants schools and colleges to open as soon as soon as possible. But we need to make sure that reopening does not reverse the current drop in infections
“Schools and colleges need to be safe places for children, young people, staff and parents. This is why along with other unions we continue to propose a phased return.
“We cannot understand why the Westminster government has chosen a ‘big bang’ full reopening when the governments of Scotland and Wales – using the same science – are proceeding cautiously with a phased return.”
UNISON, along with other unions, have pressed the government for additional safety measures to be introduced for schools and colleges to ensure that children, young people, staff and their communities are safe.
There is a particular need that vulnerable staff and pupils are not sent back into enclosed spaces and full classes given that the government has to date failed to introduce measures to protect pupils and staff from airborne transmission of COVID-19.
Jon Richards added: “If there are no serious changes we remain convinced that a ‘big bang’ full reopening is an unnecessary risk and a reckless act.
“Before the 8 March reopening date we will continue to work with our sister unions and put pressure on the Department for Education to try to get them to adopt the recommendations we have made that would make schools safe places for everyone.”