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The NASUWT has reacted to the announcement of new restrictions by the Northern Ireland Executive including the extension of the Halloween break in schools to two weeks.

NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said:

“There is no doubt that Northern Ireland has reached the point where severe measures must be taken to bring the Covid-19 epidemic under control. There is a strong correlation between the full reopening of schools in August and the exponential growth in the infection rate over the past two months.

“It has been reported that both the Chief Medical and Scientific officers have recommended a four-week closure of schools. The Executive need to publish this advice and the rationale for not following this course of action.

“The Department of Education have been collecting information from schools in relation to positive cases in schools since the reopening. The NASUWT are calling on the Minister of Education to publish this information and any related analysis of school-based transfer of the virus. Teachers are asking ‘what are they hiding?’”

Justin McCamphill, NASUWT National Official Northern Ireland, said:

“We are witnessing the inevitable consequence of the decision to abandon social distancing in schools. The NASUWT warned in August that the Executive should not have changed the plan of the 19th June which would have allowed for a phased and controlled reopening of schools.

“School leaders and teachers have done their best, but it is an impossible task. Almost every school has been impacted by positive cases and the need to self-isolate. Schools are regularly sending home whole year groups for two week periods while some schools have lost up to half their permanent teachers. Schools are closing for pupils but in a haphazard and uncontrolled manner.

“The Executive needs to draw up a new plan not based on opening schools no matter what, but one based on keeping schools open in a sustainable and safe manner which controls the spread of the infection.”
 

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