The general secretary of one of the top teachers’ unions has laid out five demands that need to be fulfilled before schools reopen.
General secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) Dr Patrick Roach has written to the Education Secretary with the demands, according to The Telegraph.
He laid out five conditions that must be met before teachers will return to work:
- Schools must have enough cleaning equipment and staff to carry out deep cleaning.
- The Government must publish advice on how social distancing can be achieved in schools.
- Teachers must have access to personal protective equipment (PPE), ranging from soap to face masks, gloves and aprons, depending on the type of school.
- Teachers should be guaranteed the same employment protections as other workers.
- There should be recognition that school staff are now a “depleted” workforce due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In his letter, Dr Roach said all of the demands must be “fully addressed” before schools reopen.
He said teachers should not be expected to “undertake cleaning tasks” themselves.
He wrote: “The NASUWT would not expect teachers to be asked to undertake cleaning tasks or to be expected to undertake them to the necessary standards to protect the health of pupils and the workforce.”
The Department for Education has already said teachers do not need PPE to carry out their jobs safely.
Their guidelines say staff should focus on observing “social distancing, hand washing and other hygiene measures, and cleaning of surfaces”.
The demands for protective equipment to be given to teachers, came as the row over not having enough PPE for NHS workers became even more furious.
A shipment of 84 tonnes of PPE from Turkey failed to arrive, and health bosses have said they have “low confidence” in receiving adequate supplies.
Government ministers are also facing increasing pressure to call for the widespread use of face masks to stop the spread of coronavirus once lockdown measures are eased.
The reopening of schools is seen as a key move in winding back the drastic lockdown measures, as it would allow parents to return to work.
Millions of children who were due to return to school after the Easter holiday this week, are still learning from home after most schools were shut down last month.
It has been reported the earliest schools will reopen is June.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said he will only order schools to reopen once it is safe.
He said the UK was watching closely how other countries, such as Denmark, were reopening schools and the measures they had put in place.
He said: “Are we looking at other countries and learning from them? Absolutely.
“And we’re seeing a few examples of countries opening up their schooling system and we’ll look closely as to how that works, how that goes, and what lessons can be learnt from it so we can benefit from that.”
But he refused to set any concrete date when parents could expect schools to reopen.
Dr Roach said any discussions over opening schools must be “cautionary”.
Another union boss, Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders agreed there should be no rush to reopen schools.
He said he “cannot think of a worse idea than schools being reopened before general easing of the lockdown”.
He added: ” (I) sincerely hope that nobody in Government is seriously pressing for this to happen”.