Following the Prime Minister's announcement on Saturday that England will begin a new month-long lockdown on Thursday, but that schools, colleges and universities will remain open, Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“It is right to prioritise keeping pupils in school. No-one is more committed to ensuring that children do not lose out during this time than those that have dedicated their working lives to education. Neither though does anyone want to see pupils or staff put in harm’s way.
“We are calling on government to provide complete transparency on the risks to children, families and school staff of keeping all pupils in school, and to give clear guidance on what additional measures schools may have to take in order to keep everyone safe.
“We are particularly concerned that, once again, there is considerable ambiguity about whether it is safe for those who are clinically vulnerable or extremely vulnerable to continue to work in a school.
“It is clear from the government’s own attendance figures that older children have been more affected by the rise in infections so far. In Scotland, the government have determined that the evidence on transmission was sufficient to advise senior pupils in high restriction areas to wear face coverings in classrooms and for staff to wear face coverings in all schools where social distancing is not possible. We want to know from the government in England why their interpretation differs and when precisely risk factors will trigger a move to rota-working.
“In this time of crisis, it is essential that schools are free from distractions and can focus their full efforts on the task at hand. The government can back schools by confirming full reimbursement of covid costs, the continued suspension of routine inspection in January, cancellation of statutory testing and clarification on arrangements for awarding GCSE, AS and A-levels in summer 2021.”
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