On 10th May 2020, the Prime Minister announced the relaxing of measures to stay at home and protect the NHS.
Governments in Scotland and Wales have taken a different approach, continuing to reaffirm to the public the need to stay at home other than for essential activities.
Whilst the UK Government has announced its ambition to see schools reopening from 1st June 2020, the Government does not require schools to relax their current restrictions from 1st June.
The Government has announced its ambition that in England, primary schools should begin to reopen to Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils from 1st June and that secondary schools may admit Year 10 and Year 12 pupils before the summer holidays. However, no plans have yet been published by the Government regarding how this will be achieved in practice and schools are not mandated to open to more pupils on 1st June.
The NASUWT is clear that schools should not relax the restrictions on opening until it is safe to do so. Unless and until government and schools can demonstrate publicly that they will be safe for staff and children, schools should continue to limit their opening only to vulnerable children and to children of key workers.
The NASUWT expects that all schools and colleges will need to be able to demonstrate that their provision is safe for staff and for children at all times.
Employers are required by health and safety legislation to, ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’, protect the health and safety of employees by removing or reducing workplace risks. This applies to COVID-19 in the same way it would to any other hazard.
In assessing workplace risks, schools should consult with and agree with staff and union representatives their risk management plans. The NASUWT is pressing the Government to ensure a clear, transparent and consistent approach by schools in relation to COVID-19 risk assessments.
The NASUWT is also continuing to press for teachers to have access to appropriate PPE and clearer and enforceable guidance on social distancing in school settings.
Schools are reminded that the coronavirus can and does cause fatalities in all groups of people and that this should be the guiding issue for any arrangements made for the reopening of schools.
The NASUWT is clear that no teacher or child should be expected to go into a school that is not safe and until it can be demonstrated that it is safe for them to do so.
The NASUWT will continue to support members in providing access to remote learning support for children who stay at home.