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Commenting on the publication of the DfE guidance for the wider reopening of schools, colleges and early years providers from September, NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said:

“We want to see all children back in schools as soon as it is safe to do so.

“Whilst the Government has published this latest guidance, it remains unfortunate that it has still not come forward with a plan to secure public confidence and ensure the safe return of all children to schools in September.

“Without a clear plan from the Government, there is still a risk of further confusion and uncertainty.

“The Government’s guidance for the full reopening of schools is predicated on the assumption that virus transmission rates will continue to fall.

“However, there will be many questions for parents and for teachers and other staff working in schools about safe reopening, which is what we all want to see.

“The Government will need to provide clarity in response to the latest evidence of virus transmission amongst under 18 year olds which has contributed to the local lockdown in the city of Leicester.

“The scientific basis underpinning the Government’s decision to relax protective measures in schools also needs to be explained, including the decision to expand pupil bubbles to include entire year group cohorts.

“It remains essential that teachers with underlying health conditions, including clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable staff, are not put at risk as a result of the decisions taken by schools on full reopening.

“Employers must also ensure they act responsibly in ensuring that their decisions on full reopening do not further widen racial disparities in Covid-19 transmission and deaths.

“Ensuring that schools are kept clean as all pupils return is essential to preventing the spread of the Coronavirus, and we will be looking to the Government to provide the additional resources needed to enable all schools to do that.

“In every other workplace it is accepted that hand washing, social distancing and PPE are critical elements of covid-safe working practices. It is essential that the same health and safety expectations are applied in schools as they are in other workplaces.

“We welcome that the Government’s guidance for the first time reminds schools of their statutory duties for health and safety. However, the Government also needs to have in place a clear health and safety inspection and enforcement regime to give parents and teachers the reassurance they will need.”

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