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As the number of teachers testing positive for COVID-19 rises in Glasgow, a recent survey by the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union provides clear evidence that poor employer practice may be to blame as Glasgow schools fail to follow essential safety measures to protect their employees.

No teachers working in Glasgow, who responded to this snapshot survey of their experiences since the reopening of their school or college since the start of the new academic year, were able to say that pupils in their school were always following physical distancing. Just 6% of teachers said managers in their schools are always modelling and reinforcing messages on the need for stringent physical distancing.

Working with younger pupils and pupils with additional support needs, undertaking practical classes, class sizes and space constraints in schools were cited as the main barriers to consistently maintaining physical distancing.

60% said arrangements for cleaning in their school were not adequate and 61% said arrangements rely on teachers and other staff who are not trained as cleaners undertaking cleaning themselves.

More than two thirds (67%) said access to PPE in their school was inadequate and 18% said they did not have access to soap and water to clean their hands.

Only one third (34%) said their school has an effective protocol which is being followed at all times for dealing with suspected COVID cases and 63% said their school has no measures in place to deal with pupils who deliberately put others at risk with their behaviour.

Two thirds (69%) said their levels of anxiety around work are high or very high, rising to 80% of extremely vulnerable teachers. Nearly half (62%) said they feel unsafe or very unsafe in their workplace, rising to 80% of extremely vulnerable teachers.

More than two thirds of teachers working in Glasgow (71%) said they were not confident they would be provided with the necessary time, support and resources to cope with working during the pandemic.

NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said:

“Claims that teachers are responsible for this rise in coronavirus cases, because they are failing to physically distance from each other, are misplaced and completely unfair.
  
“This survey highlights the failure by employers in Glasgow to put in place adequate procedures to ensure COVID-safety in their schools.

“Significant numbers of teachers who work in Glasgow are reporting a widespread failure to implement the essential safety measures designed to control the spread of coronavirus in schools or colleges.

“With this alarming increase in coronavirus cases, employers and the Government must take urgent action to ensure they have robust protocols in place to check and review safety arrangements, and ensure that essential procedures are being followed by all pupils and staff.”

Jane Peckham, NASUWT National Official Scotland, said:

“This rise in coronavirus cases is not the fault of teachers and other staff, who have been put in an untenable position with regard to the full reopening of schools.

“School and college employers must ensure that physical distancing, PPE and effective cleaning measures are implemented fully to protect teachers and their pupils from coronavirus.”

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