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Speaking ahead of a statement to Parliament by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach, said:

"It has been abundantly clear for some time that the announcement by the Government of arbitrary dates for the wider reopening of schools was ill-considered, premature and unworkable.
 
“The Government’s rush to seek to reopen schools as part of wider efforts to restart the economy has been in the face of deep concerns and mounting evidence that this would contribute to a second wave of infections and deaths from the Coronavirus.

“With the “R” Rate close to or above 1 in a number of areas of the country, decisions to reopen schools more widely could be extremely damaging to public health as well as to the health and safety of children and adults in schools.

“The overwhelming majority of teachers remain extremely worried that with schools opening to more children whilst safe social distancing and PPE continue to be major concerns, wider school reopening is simply not safe.

“In the absence of definitive guidance from the Government, many schools have struggled to understand what they need to do in order to meet appropriate health and safety standards when they do reopen.

“Whilst the NASUWT welcomes the Government’s belated decision to step back from its plans to open schools to even more pupils before the end of this academic year, we are also urging the Government to act swiftly to address the concerns of teachers and headteachers struggling to maintain safe working practices in schools where provision for children has already been extended.

“The Government must now accept that its plans for wider reopening of schools are no longer credible.

“The Government must also make clear to schools that they should revisit their plans and take all appropriate steps to protect the welfare of staff and pupils even if that means pausing planned reopening or closing wider provision in the interests of safety and public health.”

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