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The decision to relax the rules on self-isolation needs to be accompanied by greater support for schools to ensure they can remain open safely, the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union has told the Scottish Government.

Members are concerned about the potential for higher case numbers in schools following the changes to self-isolation, making the provision of additional resources especially important.

Ministers also need to back steps to ensure compliance with basic measures such as physical distancing and good hygiene, particularly in primary schools and ASN settings, which have fewer mitigations open to them.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

“Whilst some efforts have been made to assess air quality through the installation of CO2 monitors in many schools, the action taken to address poor air quality and ventilation remains little more than 'open a window', which during the winter months does not make for a suitable learning environment.

“The Scottish Government should invest in air filtration units in classrooms where ventilation has been identified as poor. Without adequate air flow and ventilation, the risk is that already high case numbers may get even worse in schools in the near future.

“Ministers can also go further to assist schools this term by resourcing the provision of on-site testing and providing additional financial support to meet the costs of supply staff to cover for Covid-related absence.”

Mike Corbett, NASUWT National Official Scotland, said:

“We are already receiving feedback from members that many of the existing mitigations, such as recommended distancing between pupils and teachers and regular cleaning regimes are no longer being applied with the same force as they were earlier in the pandemic.

“Concerns are particularly high in the primary and ASN sectors now that the rules on self-isolation have been relaxed. With a variant which has an increased risk of transmissibility, no mask wearing required for pupils under 11 and very few pupils having been vaccinated, teachers in primary and ASN believe that they are consequently at more risk of contracting the virus than before the Christmas holidays.

“We have asked ministers to take further actions to support our education workforce in their tremendous efforts to continue to maintain learning for our children and young people.”
 

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