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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Will Bristol school students and educators have a holiday break?

Social distancing at school

Bristol and South Gloucestershire NEU branches met last week to discuss the ongoing Covid crisis in our schools.

Schools are engines of Covid spread and young people living in multigenerational households or with family members with underlying health conditions risk bringing a deadly virus into their home. Mindful that educators’ first concern is always for the health and wellbeing of the young people they work with.they have therefore agreed on the following set of demands.

  • A move to remote learning for the week beginning Monday 7th December to serve as a firebreak to suppress Covid. Whilst remaining open to vulnerable students, children of key workers and academically vulnerable students who could not access remote learning during the last academic year.
  • A wider closure on the 14th December to ensure students and educators alike do not face the risk of needing to spend their well deserved holiday break self-isolating.
  • Full pay for supply teachers and any staff member who needs to take time off of work to care for sick or self-isolating children.
  • All clinically extremely vulnerable staff and staff in the third trimester of pregnancy to work from home.

Educators, school leaders, students, staff and their families, deserve a holiday break with a semblance of normalcy. Schools need to be closed on Monday 14th December to ensure this.

NEU logo
Please contact Bristol National Education Union:
07394447160 for further comment.

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Safe Reopening of Schools Day of Action – Bristol

Friday, 21 August 2020
from 11:30-12:30
Wine Street, Bristol, BS1 2

Bristol Trades Union Council is calling for all to support this action.

All education workers want schools to reopen and say the best place children can be is back in school, learning, playing and socialising with their friends.

However, Britain is still in the midst of a global pandemic and the availability of vaccine for everyone is still out of sight for now. This means that all are still at risk of a deadly virus. It is still the clinically vulnerable staff, students, parents, grandparents, carers and members of our community who we most at risk to the virus.

As all in education go back to school we need to ensure our schools are safe. This means demanding amongst other things:
– weekly testing for all staff and any students whose parents wish to be tested
– continued shielding for any clinically vulnerable staff or anyone who lives with a clinically vulnerable person
– PPE for all cleaners in schools
– the availability to self-isolate on full-pay

More information on Facebook: Safe Reopening of Schools Day of Action – Bristol

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No back to school – until it’s safe

Bristol Trades Union Council is calling for all to support this meeting.

Early in April the National Education Union (NEU) outlined their five tests that the Government should meet before widening the opening of schools. Unlike the Governments current strategy the meeting of the NEU’s tests would create the necessary confidence amongst parents and staff that schools are being opened in a way that is safe and doesn’t endanger educators, school children, workers and the NHS.

The NEU five tests are –

Test 1 : Much lower numbers of Covid-19 cases
Test 2 : A national plan for social distancing
Test 3 : Testing, testing, testing!
Test 4 : Whole school strategy
Test 5 : Protection for the vulnerable

Details about the NEU five tests can be found at NEU five tests for Government before schools can re-open

Further details of the meeting and how to join the meeting can be found on this Facebook event page No back to school – until its safe

The meeting is hosted by Bristol Corona Crisis – People Before Profit Network, Bristol NEU and South Glos. Young Educator Network.

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Safe reopening of schools

The infection rate in the UK is creeping back up and is close to the point where the coronavirus could again start spreading rapidly.

The coronavirus “R-number” is now between 0.7 and 1.0, we have been told repeatedly over the last few weeks that it needs to be kept below one in order to stay in control of the virus and protect people’s lives and the NHS.

We still don’t know the effect of the changes to lockdown recently announced by the government.

The government hasn’t revealed it’s models on how many black and Asian staff are likely to die as a result of the lifting of the Covid-19 lockdown.

With all these unknowns the government is insisting that schools re-open for certain cohorts in just over two weeks time.

During their discussions with the government the unions working in education have put forward proposals that will reopen schools is a way that is safe for children, staff, their families and the wider community. The unions have backed up these discussions by issuing a joint statement on the safe reopening of schools.

Bristol Trades Union Council expresses its full support for this statement and expresses it’s solidarity with the nine unions involved.

The BMA has also thrown it’s weight behind the unions when it said that “the number of coronavirus infections remained too high to allow them [schools] to run safely”.

Bristol Trades Union Council says schools should open but only when it is safe to do so. No worker should have to work in unsafe conditions. We urge all workers to join a union to protect their health, safety and conditions.

The statement released by the unions can be found here Education unions’ statement on the safe reopening of schools

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