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Ms Chris Keates, Acting General Secretary of the NASUWT-The teachers’ union said:

“On the 16th March 2020 Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a public announcement which underlined the deepening gravity of the situation with regard to COVID-19 and the national and global crisis we are facing.

“Unfortunately, his statement failed to give the clear and definitive directions necessary to enable individuals, organisations and services to be confident in the decisions they are making or to provide the reassurance and assurance that people need at this time.

“All of the announcements continue to be couched as guidance or advice which is simply serving to increase anxiety and uncertainty.

“The NASUWT has to date been advising our members in the context of the advice issued by governments and administrations and public health bodies across the UK. 

“However, the lack of clear information with regard to the steps to protect teachers, headteachers and other staff working in schools in the context of commentators constantly referring to the threats posed by children carrying COVID-19 is causing chaos and confusion and placing intolerable pressure on all staff in schools and their families.

“The NASUWT has consistently raised a series of concerns with Ministers since this national crisis began to unfold and whilst we have sought not to second guess the science and medical advice and worked to support members in the increasingly difficult situation, the lack of specific information for schools understandably has created a rising sense of panic.

“Schools are struggling with ever diminishing staffing levels and are being driven to make arrangements for changes to staff working conditions which have the potential to compromise the health and safety of staff and pupils. This situation cannot be allowed to continue. 

“The UK Government, working with governments and administrations across the UK, must now make a definitive decision about the steps being taken to protect the school workforce and the closure of schools.”

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