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NAHT comments on relaxing lockdown measures in schools

Today's government Coronavirus briefing was  led by Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education. 

In response, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT said: "Our focus in recent days has been to help our members with their planning for a return to school and to get the answers they need in order to achieve that successfully and safely.

"The conditions are not yet right to re-open schools to more pupils. The government says its evidence indicates that circumstances should be improved enough to safely admit more pupils from 1 June. However, if their tests have not been met, then the government must follow through on its statement that wider school reopening will be paused.  

“Throughout the lockdown NAHT has had frequent meetings with the Department for Education. The descriptions of a deep rift do not reflect what I have observed. Everyone is working extremely hard to find solutions in extremely difficult and uncertain circumstances.

“Friday’s meeting with the government’s scientific advisers was productive and we did hear some assurances about safety, but we didn’t get the analysis behind those assurances. What is important now is that scientific evidence and advice is put in the public domain.

"Most critically, clear evidence on the level of risk that pupils, parents and school staff may pose to one another in a school environment and how these risks can best be mitigated. The ball is currently in the government’s court here, so we hope they’ll publish this with no delay."

“In the meantime, we have issued guidance to our members to help them to plan to re-admit more pupils to school should the government confirm it is safe to do so. We believe that this should be done in a more phased way than the government suggests, gradually increasing capacity. The risks of going too far, too fast are obvious.

“We have consistently said that the government cannot expect schools to ‘flick a switch’ and return to normal. Our actions should follow the science, rather than waiting for the science to catch-up with the government’s preferred date.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

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