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A third wave of Covid cases could threaten schools and colleges after Easter unless the Government acts to maintain strict safety measures in schools and colleges, the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union is warning today.

Ahead of the return of pupils for the summer term, the Union is calling on the Government not to remove or water down the current guidance, including the instruction that pupils in secondary schools and colleges should wear face coverings in classrooms and other areas of schools where social distancing cannot be maintained.

The Government has stated it will review this rule at Easter and the NASUWT is concerned that with the wider lockdown starting to be eased, ministers may decide to relax the guidance.

This NASUWT believes such a move would undermine Covid safety and reduce pupils’ adherence to the wider safety controls in schools and colleges at a time when the risk of transmission remains high.

There is strong support among teachers for the wearing of face coverings by secondary and college age pupils. Three quarters of NASUWT members who responded to the Union’s recent Big Question survey said they were in favour of pupils in this groups wearing face coverings in the classroom. A further 67% in a separate Covid safety survey said they supported the continuation of the guidance on face coverings into the new term.

69% of respondents to the same latter survey said they were concerned that the planned relaxation of lockdown will encourage less compliance with safety measures in their school or college next term.

Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“There is a real risk that the success of the vaccination programme to date, the easing of the lockdown and the reduction in current case numbers could lead to ministers being tempted to relax the Covid control measures in schools after Easter.

“In our view this would be a mistake.

“Ministers must model the behaviour they want to see in maintaining discipline and adherence to Covid safety measures. Relaxing the rules in schools would send a message to pupils and parents that the threat of Covid has passed at a time when extreme caution is still needed.

“We are not out of the woods yet and maintaining the highest levels of Covid security in our schools is critical as we move into the new term in order to protect the safety and health of teachers and learners.” 

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