Teaching unions unconvinced by Johnson’s push for school reopening
Teaching unions remain unconvinced by yesterday’s announcement by the Prime Minister they should prepare for the reopening of schools in England on June 1.
The NEU is concerned that independent evidence does not justify wider opening. It notes that Sir David King, of the Independent Sage group said on Friday: “It is clear from the evidence we have collected that 1 June is simply too early to go back, by going ahead with this dangerous decision, the government is further risking the health of our communities and the likelihood of a second spike.”
The union says it is hard for schools and staff to rely instead on the Prime Ministers assertion that such wider opening would be safe. This is especially the case when the government’s own advisers say that contact tracing and isolation should be working before wider opening and when the government hasn’t even modelled the specific proposal it is putting forward.
NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “The NEU does not agree that it would be right for primary schools to open more widely on June 1st. We once again call on the government to engage meaningfully with the education unions on these matters. We stand ready to talk to the government about how our five tests can be met and then how we can then proceed to a safe wider re-opening of schools.”
NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “The Prime Minister’s display of determination to press ahead with the wider reopening of schools from 1 June is seriously at odds with the scientific evidence released to date, and the deep concerns expressed by schools, teachers and parents.
“The government has yet to reassure parents and teachers that opening schools from 1 June will be safe and now appears to accept that many schools will not be able to reopen on that date. The government has to recognise that it has not won the trust and confidence of the teaching profession.
“Notwithstanding the government’s assertions, the bottom line is that no teacher or child should be expected to go into schools until it can be demonstrated that it is safe for them to do so.
“The Prime Minister has rightly stressed the importance of bringing down the “R” rate below 1 but the evidence published to date by SAGE is inconclusive when it comes to the question of whether the wider reopening of schools could contribute to a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
“The Prime Minister has also rightly made clear that he wants all businesses to be COVID-secure. However, whilst publishing limited optional guidance for schools, the government has still not made clear the standards for ensuring that all schools will be COVID-secure when they reopen.
“Teachers and the public need to be convinced that the actions by the government will not put at risk the health and safety of teachers, children or the general public.”