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Commenting on the announcement by the First Minister of a five tier alert system of Coronavirus restrictions which is due to come into force across Scotland on 2 November, Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union said:

“It is alarming that at a time of rising threat of Coronavirus transmission, the Government’s plans do not include any extension to the safety mitigation measures required in schools, particularly in those schools in the highest tier areas.

“The First Minister has stated that she is determined to do all she can to avoid a return to full lockdown by implementing additional measures to try to keep the virus under control, yet there appear to be no extra mitigations planned to help ensure pupils and staff are in the safest position and that schools are therefore making the fullest contribution to the national effort to supress the virus.

“Recent data published by Public Health Scotland has shown a significant increase in the percentage of secondary age pupils testing positive for Covid and since the end of September there is evidence of an increased number of primary age pupils also testing positive.

“We all want schools to remain open, but this should not be done by failing to have proper regard for the health and safety of pupils and staff in schools.

“It is also vital that the Government sets out clearly its expectations that school and college employers review and update their Covid-19 risk assessments in light of the increased public health threats.

“Additional safety mitigation measures in schools must also be a priority if the Government is to prevent the virus getting further out of control this winter.”

Jane Peckham, NASUWT National Official Scotland, said:

“Given the impossibility of predicting what impact the tiered approach will have on virus levels over the coming months we would question why ministers have not kept the options of blended and remote learning on the table, should the situation deteriorate significantly either locally or nationally.

“Schools were originally asked to plan for a blended learning approach back in early summer and much work was undertaken by teachers and school leaders to prepare for this for the start of the current academic year, before plans were abruptly changed to the full reopening of schools.

“If such an approach was considered a sensible and safe approach to the risks posed by Covid at the time it is difficult to understand why this, alongside remote learning, is not being kept under active consideration as part of a menu of enhanced mitigation measures that can be put into action as the situation demands.”

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