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Teachers set out tests for school re-openings

May 5, 2020 6:11 PM

Wiltshire branch of the National Education Union has written to all Multi Academy Trusts, Wiltshire Council, members of the Wiltshire Teachers Advisory Committee, and stand-alone Academies, to provide details of the Union's position about schools reopening.

They say:

"Teachers, parents and education staff have responded with the utmost seriousness and professionalism to this crisis. They need to be confident that public health is the priority in all considerations concerning how we work together to combat this terrible virus. If confidence and clarity are lacking, there is a risk of chaos and greater spread of the virus.

The NEU has previously written to the Government asking for clarity on the best science concerning these public health matters.

The Government has its five tests before relaxing the lockdown. The NEU's also has five tests that we think the Government should meet before moving to further opening of schools in order to create the necessary confidence amongst parents and staff.

We want to begin to reopen schools and colleges as soon as we can. But this needs to be safe for society, for children and their families and the staff who work in them.

We have these five tests which the Government should show will be met by reliable evidence, peer-reviewed science and transparent decision-making.

Test 1: Much lower numbers of Covid-19 cases

The new case count must be much lower than it is now, with a sustained downward trend and confidence that new cases are known and counted promptly. In addition the Government must have extensive arrangements for testing and contact tracing to keep it that way.

Test 2: A national plan for social distancing

The Government must have a national plan including parameters for both appropriate physical distancing and levels of social mixing in schools, as well as for appropriate PPE, which will be locally negotiated at school-by-school and local authority level.

Test 3: Testing, testing, testing!

Comprehensive access to regular testing for children and staff to ensure our schools and colleges don't become hot spots for Covid-19.

Test 4: Whole school strategy

Protocols to be put in place to test a whole school or college when a case occurs and for isolation to be strictly followed.

Test 5: Protection for the vulnerable

Vulnerable staff, and staff who live with vulnerable people, must work from home, fulfilling their professional duties to the extent that is possible. Plans must be to specifically address the protection of vulnerable parents, grandparents and carers.

We hope that you take all these tests into account and make a Risk Assessment before deciding that it is safe to open a school."