Schools Need “Clarification” on Reopening Amid Rising Coronavirus Cases, Teachers Union Warns


School leaders, teachers and parents must be given “greater clarity” on the reopening of schools amid an increase in coronavirus cases, a teachers’ union has warned.Boris Johnson had previously promised that all primary and secondary school students in England would return in September, after months of closures for the majority of students.

But after the prime minister announced a slowdown in easing lockdown restrictions, Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union, said the government will need to provide “clarification” to schools.

Mr Roach told the Observer: ‘In light of recent changes to plans to ease lockdown measures, the government needs to provide more clarity to principals, teachers and parents on what this is. will mean for the reopening of schools in September. ”

A warning from England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty that the country is “close to the limit” in opening up society will raise questions for parents as well as teachers, Mr Roach told the newspaper.

Social distancing measures at a school in England

“If schools are to reopen safely, the government will need to give them specifics on what to do to take into account the latest scientific evidence and advice, as well as enough time to review and, if necessary, adjust their plans. reopening, ”he added.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education said: “We have defined the controls that schools should use, including cleaning and hygiene measures, to significantly reduce the risk of transmission of the virus when they are open. to all children from September.

“This does not include the wearing of face masks, as we believe that the control system in place has adequately reduced the risk of transmission to staff and students.”

Meanwhile, Dr Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, told the Observer that while the risks to children and teachers are likely low, this transmission would increase infection rates. .

“Would reopening schools increase the spread of Covid-19 among the population?” Yes. I think that would most likely do that, ”he said in the interview.

It comes after a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said ministers may have to consider closing pubs in England for classes to start again next month.

New Oxford bar staff in Salford

Professor Graham Medley, who chairs Sage’s subgroup on pandemic modeling, said this scenario was “very possible”.

“I think we are in a situation where most people think that opening schools is a priority for the health and well-being of children and that when we do, we will reconnect many households,” he said. he told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today program.

“And so in fact, by shutting down some of the other networks, some of the other activities may well be needed to allow us to open schools.

“It can come down to a question of what trade-offs are you making against each other, and then it’s all about prioritizing, do we think pubs are more important than schools?”


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