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Decision to relax self-isolation rules requires greater support for schools, Scotland's teachers urge

TEACHERS’ leaders in Scotland called today for more action to make schools safe from the highly infectious omicron Covid variant.

The NASUWT union said that there was a desperate need for more resources such as air filtration systems and that simply leaving windows open in winter was no answer.

The union added that action was needed to ensure compliance with measures such as physical distancing and good hygiene because enforcement measures have been relaxed since the first wave of the pandemic last year.

It also appealed for more support following changes to self-isolation rules.

NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “Whilst some efforts have been made to assess air quality through the installation of CO2 monitors in many schools, the action taken to address poor air quality and ventilation remains little more than “open a window,” which during the winter months does not make for a suitable learning environment.

“The Scottish government should invest in air filtration units in classrooms where ventilation has been identified as poor.

“Without adequate air flow and ventilation, the risk is that already high case numbers may get even worse in schools in the near future.

“Ministers can also go further to assist schools this term by resourcing the provision of on-site testing and providing additional financial support to meet the costs of supply staff to cover for Covid-related absence.”

National official for Scotland Mike Corbett said: “We are already receiving feedback from members that many of the existing mitigations, such as recommended distancing between pupils and teachers and regular cleaning regimes, are no longer being applied with the same force as they were earlier in the pandemic.

“With a variant which has an increased risk of transmissibility, no mask-wearing required for pupils under 11 and very few pupils having been vaccinated, teachers in primary and ASN [additional support needs] believe that they are consequently at more risk of contracting the virus than before the Christmas holidays.

“We have asked ministers to take further actions to support our education workforce in their tremendous efforts to continue to maintain learning for our children and young people.”

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