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Commenting on the announcement by the First Minister that schools will remain fully open in areas which are to move to the highest level of Coronavirus restrictions from Friday, Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union said:

“In a worsening situation where the Government has decided that the only course of action is to move a whole swathe of the country into a virtual lockdown, the NASUWT believes that ministers should take further measures on school safety and that should include the use of smaller classes in schools and colleges as an essential element of this strategy.

“Moving to a blended learning approach in level 4 areas would reduce the risks, not only to pupils and school staff, but would also support the fight to reduce virus levels in the wider community. This in turn would help to reduce the levels of disruption and uncertainty currently being experienced by pupils and staff as a result of them having to self-isolate because of positive cases in their schools and colleges.

“The NASUWT has submitted a ten point plan to the Scottish Government which sets out the steps the Union believes are necessary to ensure the safety of all children, young people and staff in our schools and colleges.

“The Union is continuing to consult with members about further measures to support the safety of teachers in our schools and colleges and the Government should accept the need to take additional further decisive action to protect children’s education, ensuring that schools and colleges can operate safely and support the national fight against suppressing the virus.”

Jane Peckham, NASUWT National Official Scotland, said:

“The First Minister has said that pupils who are extremely clinically vulnerable should not attend school, but only that adults in level 4 areas who are clinically extremely vulnerable will receive further advice and will not automatically be exempted from attending their workplace. Given the risks, the NASUWT believes that all clinically vulnerable teachers in level 4 areas should be advised to work from home.

“Serious concerns also remain about the risks to other groups of teachers working in level 4 areas who are vulnerable to Covid-19 transmission, including those who are pregnant, those who have other underlying health conditions or disabilities or who are from higher risk groups such as BAME teachers.

“Ministers now need to go further and issue more robust measures to protect all staff, including those who fall into these higher risk categories and who should also be receiving additional protection.”

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