Schools should not open the floodgates to a new wave

Schools should avoid opening the floodgates to a new wave of Covid infections by staggering the full return to the classroom, UNISON says today.

Schools across the east of England are due to fully reopen on Monday, with an enhanced testing regime and face coverings for secondary school pupils.

But UNISON warns that this may not go far enough, and face coverings should be compulsory for staff and students at all times in secondary schools and for staff in primaries and SEND settings.

UNISON, along with other education unions, has 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.

UNISON Eastern schools lead Tracey Sparkes said: “We all want 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.

“Most schools staff have stayed in the classroom through all three lockdowns supporting key worker families but they’re understandably anxious about the risks posed by opening the floodgates to so many students at once who could bring new strains of the disease with them.

“Schools in the east of England should follow the examples of Scotland and Wales and stagger the reopening so they can get children back safely.”