Peter Shreeve, Assistant District Secretary of the National Education Union, shares this latest news. Ed
A snapshot national survey of 4,016 members of the National Education Union, reveals continued problems with health and safety even before wider opening.
After two months in lockdown, and with significantly fewer pupils attending, there are persistent issues around measures to minimise the spread of Covid-19.
Difficulty with social distancing
Almost a quarter (22%) say that pupil numbers have not been kept low enough to allow social distancing.
A significant number (26%) are concerned that pupil numbers are too large to allow social distancing when moving around their school.
Hand washing and PPE
41% report that their school does not have sufficient hand basins for children to regularly wash their hands.
A quarter of respondents (24%) state that hand sanitiser is not available in all classrooms or at entrance/exit points.
The majority (53%) report they do not have lidded bins in each classroom and 53% report they are not being offered appropriate PPE.
One third (31%) believe the arrangements for cleaning their classroom are inadequate.
H&S issues may grow
It is clear from the findings of this survey that when pupil intake increases, and for so long as the Government fails to meet the NEU’s five tests, the health and safety issues facing heads, teachers and school staff will grow.
Shreeve: Some excellent practice on the Island
Commenting on the survey findings, Peter Shreeve, Assistant District Secretary of the National Education Union said:
“It is the duty of Government to ensure that we are kept as safe as possible through this pandemic. No one is saying we can only go back when it is 100% safe, but this has not been thought through properly. As this survey of NEU members shows, significant numbers of school staff are confirming that basic health and safety guidelines outlined by Government are not being observed.
“We have noted some excellent practice on the Island, where hard-pressed senior leaders have run detailed question and answer sessions for staff and have listened and acted upon concerns. Risk assessments have been shared and contributed to by staff. This is really positive, yet is not necessarily mimicked in every establishment.”
Shreeve: Scientific evidence, not a political whim
Peter went on to say,
“If schools are going to widen the pupil intake, then next step is to ensure that all pupils and parents are aware of these procedures as most are likely to be new and time is ticking.
“Hurtling towards an arbitrary wider opening date without either sufficient scientific evidence or protection in place is simply wrong. Neither Scotland, Northern Ireland nor Wales have decided the time is right.
“We note that this week local media has reported small rises in Island Covid-19 cases and today a second Island school has announced a confirmed Coronavirus case.
“If larger schools with larger structures are succumbing to the virus, smaller buildings surely are at greater risk.
“Many schools nationally will not be abiding by the Government’s preferred wider opening date and none will be penalised as a result. Island schools need to know they are opening more widely on the basis of sound scientific evidence, not a political whim.”