“Don’t engage with planning to return to school on June 1” – unions meet today to agree joint position

Unions are meeting today to agree a joint position on the re-opening of schools.

The government wants children to return to schools next month, but unions are concerned about the safety of pupils and their members.

UNISON Head of Education and Local Government Jon Richards last night tweeted: “Colleagues, tomorrow we will work with other education unions to agree a joint position on returning to schools in response to tonight’s additional guidance from the DfE (England). Until then we advise members not to engage with planning for a June 1st return. Statement tomorrow.”

NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney this morning tweeted: “We are aiming to get you joint union guidelines about what a safe opening would look like, when that’s a safe thing to do.”

He elaborated on a Facebook post, saying: “Our concerns are for the safety of children, their families, staff and their families and the wider community.

“We want to be given peer reviewed scientific evidence on:

Modelling of schools as sites of community transmission. To understand this with the current levels of test, track, isolate.

Infectiousness of children – transmission to other children and to adults.

Relative levels of risk of adults by age, ethnicity, sex, co-morbidities.

Modelling of risk to vulnerable family members, of other members of the family being at school -either as a pupil or as a member of staff.

The cases of an inflammatory condition in children which may be linked to Covid 19.

The conditionality the Prime Minster said applied to proposals for wider opening of schools from June 1st if the condition is met. What is the scientific test that is being applied to assess this?

It is no way obstructive, or unreasonable to ask for this information.

“Quite the reverse; understanding this information allows the best ways to plan next steps. It would be completely irresponsible of Government to take steps without having this information.”

NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “In a situation where the wrong decision will result in people becoming seriously ill and dying, there can be no compromise on health and safety. If this means that schools are unable to open safely before September because they are unable to make arrangements to safeguard their staff and pupils, then that position must be accepted.

“We are reminding members there is no obligation on any schools to extend their opening arrangements. The 1 June 2020 is the date from from when schools may be able to extend their opening arrangements. It is neither a fixed nor hard and fast date by which all schools must open and there is no requirement or obligation currently on any school to reopen to more pupils from that date.

“Nothing that has been said by the government or the DfE has changed the NASUWT’s position that no teacher should be expected to go into a school that is not safe and until it can be demonstrated that it is safe to do so and we will be continuing to support and advise members on that basis.”

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