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Teachers warn education ministers against reopening schools too soon

TEACHERS’ trade unions in Britain and Ireland wrote to the education ministers today to warn against the premature reopening of schools.

The letter, signed by the general secretaries of 10 unions, warned of the “very real risk of creating a spike in the transmission” of Covid-19 if schools are opened too early.

An establishment of sufficient capacity to “test, trace and isolate” the infection is needed before schools reopen, the letter said, and it called for “significant operational changes in place to ensure effective social distancing, strong hygiene routines linked to thorough cleansing practices, appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) available where required, and ongoing risk assessments in place to monitor operations.”

NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “It must not be forgotten that the decision to close schools and colleges to the majority of children was made on public-health grounds and that any decision to partially or fully reopen schools and colleges must be guided by the same overriding public-health interest.
 
“Teachers, support staff, pupils and their families must not be used as an experiment, and it would be reckless for any government to ignore the scientific evidence and thereby endanger lives.”

Scottish Labour’s education spokesman Iain Gray supported the letter and said: “We must make sure we are far better prepared to reopen schools than we were to close them.”

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, one of the letter’s recipients, told the Commons that he wants to see children returning to school “when it’s the right time,” based on the scientific and medical advice.

He added that there would be a “phased approach” to reopening schools.

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