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The NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, is again calling for blended learning to be introduced in the areas with the highest levels of Covid when schools return in January.

There continues to be strong evidence of in-school virus transmission and these risks are likely to be exacerbated by the inevitable rise in virus cases as a result of the relaxation of the rules to allow for Christmas gatherings.

The Union therefore believes a move to blended learning with smaller class sizes is necessary in Level 4 areas where virus levels are high in order to reduce the risks and maintain continuity of education provision for pupils. This must be coupled with more robust measures to protect the most vulnerable school staff and greater oversight of and support for schools to maintain Covid-safe operating practices.

Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT said:

“It is widely recognised, including by the Scottish Government, that the relaxation of the Covid restrictions over Christmas is likely to significantly drive up rates of virus transmission.

“The NASUWT does not accept the statements made today by the First Minister which seem designed to play down the role of schools in driving virus transmission. We believe there is evidence linking virus transmission to schools and we are concerned that without further safety measures being put in place in schools there is the potential to create a ‘perfect storm’ once schools reopen in January.

“We are repeating our call for the minister to introduce blended learning in areas where virus levels are high. As social distancing is a key component in suppressing the virus, supporting smaller class sizes will significantly assist schools in reducing the risks to pupils and staff and achieving the shared aim of schools remaining open safely.

“It is not acceptable and, indeed, it would be reckless, for ministers to not take all reasonable steps available to prevent a further surge in Covid-19 cases in schools in the new year.”

Jane Peckham, NASUWT National Official Scotland, said:

“Ahead of the start of the new term, the NASUWT believes the Government must accept the need to take additional further decisive action to protect children’s education, ensuring that schools can operate safely and support the national fight against suppressing the virus.

“Along with a move to blended learning, we also believe all clinically vulnerable teachers in the highest level areas should be advised to work from home and that further actions are needed to ensure that measures on self-isolation and safety enforcement are effective and are being followed in every school.

“The Government has a duty to every pupil, parent and member of the school workforce do whatever it takes to ensure schools are safe places for teaching and learning.”

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