Government defendant of ‘standing by while Covid cases surge’ in schools

The UK and Scottish governments have been told that they must improve their Covid-19 safety measures for schools. Also recommendations for improved ventilation and other actions to protect workers.

  • Recently five authorities have reintroduced restrictions to tackle further recent case numbers. They are-GMB, Unite, public service union Unison, teachers’ union the NASUWT, and the National Education Union.
  • According to the latest statistics from the Office for National Statistics, children aged 11 to 16 have the highest Covid-19 positive rate of any age group (ONS).
  • ONS mentioned about one in 15 children in school years 7 to 11 had coronavirus in the week leading up to October 2, up from one in 20 the week before.
  • NEU joint secretary Kevin Courtney said: “It is evident that more needs to be done — and sooner rather than later — to prevent further massive disruption to children’s education, caused either by children contracting Covid-19 or Covid-related staff absence.”
  • The unions will also write to all local governments and public health directors, requesting that they consider taking action in their respective areas.
  • “With winter rapidly approaching and Covid still rife, the entire range of procedures to keep pupils safe must be used – the escalating level of infections in schools demands it,” said Jim Kennedy, Unite’s national officer for education.
  • GMB national officer Avril Chambers warned of the government’s continuous “denial of the truth.” They warned if such steps are not taken, students’ health and education, could be risked.
  • Scottish Labour has demanded to know what action will be taken in classrooms that fail air quality assessments. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced £10 million would be given to councils to provide carbon dioxide monitoring for all schools and daycare services. But Scottish Labour claims that not enough has been done to protect children from coronavirus.

Over the weekend, English trade unions wrote to Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi to argue for the reinstatement of further safety measures, while Scottish Labour slammed the SNP’s school ventilation scheme as “farcical and hazardous.”