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COVID-19 safety in schools and colleges in Wales must be strengthened due to high infection rates among children, education unions said today.
TUC Cymru said that stronger measures are needed to help protect staff and pupils and keep schools open, after young people in Britain’s schools missed out on the most class time in Europe during three national lockdowns.
The call came after discussions between school staff and reps from unions including the National Education Union, the National Association of Head Teachers, and Unison, at TUC Cymru’s “schools safe and open” event last Thursday.
Recommendations included the possible return of classroom bubbles, staggered class times, isolation for close contacts of those with the virus, and more use of masks, alongside clear guidance on how schools should support those who are forced to study remotely.
More funding for the use of CO2 monitors and better ventilation in classrooms is also required, TUC Cymru said, as well as support for teacher training and help to cover virus-related staff absences.
The union body’s general secretary Shavanah Taj said: “The whole school workforce is in agreement that mitigations need to be stronger throughout Wales to keep schools open.
“Teachers, teaching assistants, headteachers and support staff are scared, overworked and exhausted.
“The Welsh government needs to listen to them and recognise that they’re the experts on what’s happening in schools.”
In a statement, the Welsh government said: “We thank everyone working across our education system for their efforts in supporting learners.
“The latest Public Health Wales provisional data suggests that the rate of cases amongst school aged children and younger adults has decreased over the past week.
“We will continue to monitor the data carefully and work to ensure as many learners as possible can attend school or college safely.”
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