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Just 3% of teachers in Wales say pupils are always practicing social distancing from adults in their school, with nearly half (46%) saying pupils are rarely or never doing so, a survey by the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union has found.

The survey of over 700 teachers in Wales found low levels of compliance with many of the Covid secure measures schools are expected to have in place to help protect pupils and staff.

Just 8% said adults in their school are always practicing social distancing, with only a quarter saying managers in their school were always reinforcing and modelling social distancing and only 34% said parents were respecting social distancing rules when picking up and dropping off their children.

Overcrowded classrooms were cited as the most common barrier to social distancing for pupils and adults.

Nearly half (43%) say pupils and adults are not routinely wearing masks in communal areas of the school.

Only 63% were able to confirm their school has clear and adequate arrangements in place for enhanced cleaning of the school premises and over half (51%) said cleaning arrangements in their school rely on staff not employed as cleaners. 6% of teachers said they were expected to clean toilets themselves.

Nearly a third (32%) of teachers said groups of pupils had been sent home from their school since the start of the new academic year because of positive or suspected cases of Covid within the school.

Two thirds had pupils in their school who have displayed Covid symptoms and nearly half (48%) knew of staff who had symptoms.

72% said they were concerned about getting access to Covid tests, if needed. 

NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said:

“At a time when the UK Government has raised the Covid threat level and introduced stricter curbs designed to limit social interactions it is worrying that many schools do not appear to be implementing Covid secure working practices or reviewing their risk assessments in light of the increased threat levels.”

Neil Butler, NASUWT Cymru National Official, said:

“As increased numbers of staff are forced to self-isolate, serious operational difficulties are emerging for schools in maintaining safe working practices.

“The Government promised teachers, pupils and parents schools would be safe to return to. So far, they are failing on that promise.”

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