Schools reopening March 2021

The two meter rule

Bristol Trades Council extends solidarity to education staff across Bristol as schools allow all pupils back on site on Monday and will continue to support and share any action taken.

As 10 million, pupils and staff are herded back into school buildings this Monday, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), GMB, National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), NASUWT, National Education Union (NEU), National Governance Association (NGA), Sixth Form Colleges’ Association (SFCA), Unison, and Unite have all signed a statement that although all staff want pupils back in school as soon as possible, this must be done in a safe and sustained fashion.

Student wearing masks

To ensure that this is safe, and doesn’t lead to a further spike in cases, we need further mitigations, and the key thing is to have smaller class sizes. That means more social distancing, less viral load testing the ventilation of the room, and less mixing of households. Calls for this have been backed by scientists in SAGE and Indie SAGE, who have warned of a third wave with virus rates of transmission increasing by 10-50% from schools reopening, even with the vaccination roll out as far as it is, and they argue that things should be relaxed later.

It could be easily achieved by opening Nightingale classes, ran by supply staff, many of whom haven’t been able to access furlough and so have been living off very little for the past year. Or by putting in rotas, with students spending part of the week in school, and part of the week learning remotely. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t wish to take these obvious steps. Instead, they insist that by all pupils facing forwards and if they’re over 11, maybe wearing a mask, it will be safe enough. This is an appalling shirking of a duty of care for staff and students by the government, and one that won’t be forgotten quickly by education staff.

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