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Schools should not be kept open ‘at the expense’ of health and safety, Educational Institute of Scotland warns

SCOTLAND’S largest teaching union called on the government to keep classrooms safe today, warning that schools should not be kept open “at the expense” of health and safety.

Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) general secretary Larry Flanagan raised concerns about the level of coronavirus infection in schools, which he said had “rocketed” to just under 5,000 cases last week. 

Writing for the Herald on Sunday, Mr Flanagan reiterated the institute’s commitment to keeping schools open and maintaining educational opportunities for children. 

But he warned that additional steps may need to be taken by the union to ensure safety. 

“To reiterate, the EIS wants to see schools open but safety cannot be ignored. If it is, we are prepared to ballot members on the option of safety strikes,” he said.

“We would prefer not to reach that point, but we need to see more from both the Scottish government and from councils.

The calls come as much of west and central Scotland continues to operate under the highest level of coronavirus restrictions, Level 4, north of the border.

Mr Flanagan said: “This is an admittance that community infection is high — what do we do to ensure schools are safe? 

“The government guidance states that schools should remain open with enhanced mitigations but in reality absolutely nothing changes at Level 4 — there is not a single additional mitigation.

“Within the government guidance both blended and remote leaning remain as necessary contingencies, but if we are never going to use them what is the point in citing them? At Level 4 they should be deployed where required.”

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