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The NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, has written to a number of local authorities in the North West urging them to reconsider their plans to continue with the wider reopening of schools in the light of reports that the regional COVID-19 R number calculated for the North West has increased to 1.01. This means that the virus could be growing again in the region.

The NASUWT has written to local authorities and Mayors in Manchester, Oldham, Salford, St Helens, Stockport and Warrington warning them their failure to meet their obligations to consult on and review their plans for reopening schools more widely in response to the increase in the R rate poses unacceptable risks to the health and safety of school staff and pupils.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

“Employers have statutory responsibilities to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees at work and to minimise the risks to which employees are exposed. Given the reports that the R rate has now risen above 1 in the North West, meaning that the virus may be growing again, the NASUWT believes these local authorities must fulfil their duty of care to staff and pupils by rethinking plans for the wider reopening of schools in their region.

“Some local authorities and employers in the region have already suggested that schools in their borough postpone the wider reopening of schools in response to the increase in the R rate. The NASUWT believes their neighbours should now do likewise.

“NASUWT members have continued to support children and young people throughout this pandemic and are ready and willing to continue to teach and support learning, provided that that system of work is safe.

“The Government has issued clear guidance urging employers to take socially responsible decisions and listen to the concerns of their staff.

“In the absence of new risk assessments being provided to the NASUWT and in the light of the increase in the R rate, the Union must insist that these local authorities demonstrate how they intend to keep pupils and staff safe and if they cannot, they must pause their plans for the wider reopening of schools.”

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