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The NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union is calling for the Executive to step up Covid control measures in schools, amid a backdrop of soaring cases in schools even before all pupils returned.

It is clear that within days of the new term starting Covid cases have already begun rising rapidly in schools and that urgent and rapid action is needed to help break chains of transmission.

The Union is calling for proactive measures to improve ventilation and an extension to the programme of onsite testing to break the chain of virus transmission within schools.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary said:

“Ministers must not risk complacency or follow a strategy of crossing their fingers and hoping for the best as the number of Covid cases rises following school reopening.

“The evidence of just the first few days of term supports the NASUWT’s view that the Executive needs to step up control measures in schools to help minimise virus spread among pupils and staff.

“Ministers will need to consider the reintroduction of the requirement for all pupils to self-isolate when they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.

“This should be supported by an extended programme of onsite testing in schools, rather than relying on a less effective system of home testing.

“We also need a commitment from the Executive to urgently take steps to improve ventilation in schools. This should involve the provision of CO2 monitors as well as funding and support for air filtration and enhanced ventilation measures to ensure air flow can be improved where monitoring indicates the need to do so.

“There is no reason for further disruption to pupils’ education, where sensible and proportionate measures are taken to support the already tremendous efforts being taken by schools and staff.”

Justin McCamphill, NASUWT National Official Northern Ireland, said:

“The spread of Covid is already once again causing further disruption to pupils’ education and the safety and health of students and staff. Allowing the spread of Covid in schools also risks driving a further wave of infections in the wider community.

“With stark evidence of the rapid growth of cases in schools ministers need to act now to step up the system of controls in schools and take the steps which are needed to help keep schools open, pupils and staff safe and to protect the wider population.”

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