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Ministers must ensure that the decisions about the operation of schools over the Christmas period and the start of the new term do not undermine the safety and welfare of pupils and school staff, NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union has warned.

The message comes amid concern from teachers about the impact of family mixing over Christmas and virus transmission in schools in the run up to and after the holidays, following the Deputy First Minister’s decision yesterday not to extend the closure period.

Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

“There is genuine concern amongst teachers about the continued risk of virus transmission within schools and the Scottish Government will need to carefully consider what additional measures may be needed in January to protect pupils and staff if it is not going to delay the reopening of schools in January.

“There remains strong evidence of in-school virus transmission which is only likely to be exacerbated by the inevitable rise in virus cases as a result of Christmas gatherings.

“Ministers need to strengthen the measures in place, particularly in areas of higher risk of virus transmission, to ensure health and safety within schools and to protect public health.”

Jane Peckham, NASUWT National Official Scotland, said:

“The rumour and speculation over the last week around the potential to vary the holiday dates has only served to raise expectations and anxiety amongst the profession. This announcement yesterday indicates yet again that government have no intention to use the promised contingency of blended learning, even in the highest Covid level areas. Remote learning could have been a solution to maintaining education provision whilst reducing the risk of virus transmission in the run up to Christmas.

“Ministers now need urgently to set out what arrangements should be in place to support those having to manage the test and protect system over Christmas.

“It is imperative that the Government provides a clear national plan which does not rely on any staff being expected to forfeit their well-deserved and much needed break to undertake this work.”

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