This is the last article you can read this month
You can read more article this month
You can read more articles this month
Sorry your limit is up for this month
EDUCATION unions demanded a “Plan B” for schools in England today after criticising the government’s new coronavirus measures for the mandatory return of pupils in September.
The National Education Union (NEU) described the new measures as impractical and “more based on hope” than science.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs in the Commons that the new measures would include keeping class or year-groups of pupils in separate “bubbles.”
He added that schools should keep corridors “clear” of students as well as staggering break, start and finish times. Students should also avoid public transport, assemblies and singing in large groups.
Mr Williamson told MPs that the government will provide all schools and colleges with a small number of home testing kits, and official guidance says mobile units can be dispatched to schools to test anyone who has been in contact with a pupil or staff member who has tested positive.
The whole school, or all pupils in a year group, may have to self-isolate at home if schools have two or more confirmed coronavirus cases within a fortnight, the Department for Education (DfE) advice says.
But the guidance insists school closures “may not be necessary” if there are a number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 on site.
Mr Williamson revealed the plans for pupils’ mandatory return to schools and colleges on the same day schools in Leicester closed as part of the city’s lockdown extension.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said the government’s new guidance is “unlikely to address concerns” about safety and that there are “practical difficulties” in following advice.
He also stressed the need for Public Health England and SAGE to be “in complete agreement” with ministers over the reopening of schools, and that a fully functioning test and trace system must be in place.
School leaders’ union NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman called for the government to have a “credible Plan B in place should it be required.”
And Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Geoff Barton warned that it will be “enormously challenging” for schools to keep children apart in year-group-sized “bubbles.”
He added: “The logistics of keeping apart many different ‘bubbles’ of children in a full school, including whole year groups comprising hundreds of pupils, is mind-boggling.”
NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said that the government must explain the “scientific basis” underpinning the decision to expand pupil bubbles to include entire year group cohorts.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.