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The NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union is calling for the Welsh Government to step up Covid control measures in schools amidst a backdrop of soaring cases in Scotland and Northern Ireland only a few weeks after pupils returned.

The Union is calling for proactive measures to deliver on promises to improve ventilation and an extension to the programme of onsite testing to break the chain of virus transmission within schools.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary said:

“Ministers must not risk complacency or follow a strategy of crossing their fingers and hoping for the best if the number of Covid cases rise following school reopening.

“We only need to look to Scotland to see that there has been a steep increase in Covid cases among school-age pupils within just a couple of weeks.

“In the event of rising case numbers, Ministers will need to consider the reintroduction of the requirement for pupils to self-isolate when they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.

“This should be supported by an extended programme of onsite testing in schools, rather than relying on a less effective system of home testing.

“Schools will also want confirmation of the timetable for the rollout of already promised Co2 monitors into schools to assist them in ensuring good ventilation.

“There is no reason for further disruption to pupils’ education, where sensible and proportionate measures are taken to support the already tremendous efforts being taken by schools and staff.”

Neil Butler, NASUWT National Official Wales, said:

“If action is not taken to address safety controls, the spread of Covid once again risks further disruption to pupils’ education and the safety and health of students and staff. Allowing the spread of Covid in schools also risks driving a further wave of infections in the wider community.

“The Welsh Government needs to reconsider the removal of the requirement to wear face coverings in classrooms. There is a double standard here where the Welsh Government asks employers to require the use of face coverings in enclosed places, but does not require this in classrooms.
 
“Ministers cannot simply put the responsibility for safety onto individuals and schools. We need to learn from the situation in Scotland and keep hold of the national Operational Guidance until we have a clearer idea of the impact of returning to school settings. ”

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