Fears over rise in Covid among pupils and teachers

Weekly figures for Covid cases in schools and staff and pupil absence paint an 'increasingly bleak picture', warns union
13th November 2020, 4:33pm

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Fears over rise in Covid among pupils and teachers

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Coronavirus & Schools: Weekly Figures On Covid Cases Among Teachers & Pupils In Scotland Have Raised Concerns

The growing number of pupils and teachers infected with Covid-19 is "creating increased concern" over the effectiveness of mitigating measures in schools, Scotland's largest teaching union has said.

The EIS has also highlighted fears over the safety of pupils, staff and the wider community.

Figures published by the Scottish government have highlighted week-on-week increases in both the number of pupils and teachers infected with Covid-19, and in the number of pupils and teachers absent from school as a result of having to self-isolate.


Background: 'Safety strikes' on the cards over school Covid fears

Sturgeon: Schools not 'untouchable' but goal is to keep them open

Research: Pupil attendance rate in Scotland highest in the UK

News: Teachers 'regarded as expendable' in new Covid system


The latest figures indicate that 29,486 pupils were absent from school on 10 November for Covid-related reasons, up from the previous week's figure of 23,034. For teachers, the figure of 1,559 teachers absent for Covid-related reasons represents another big increase, with the previous week's figure being 1,326.

Coronavirus: 'Anxiety' over school safety

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "Our members are increasingly concerned by the week-on-week increase in the number of pupils and staff being infected with Covid-19. This, coupled with the increase in the numbers self-isolating, is having a significant impact on education provision and is raising anxiety levels over the effectiveness of safety mitigations in our schools.

"The weekly figures reveal an increasingly bleak picture and are leading to calls from members for a new approach to ensuring the safety of everyone within the school community. With the deputy first minister [John Swinney, who is also education secretary] indicating today that some parts of Scotland may soon move to level 4 restrictions, this will inevitably further heighten concerns over school safety and will prompt consideration of industrial action by our members, if schools are forced to remain fully open when staff feel it is unsafe to do so."

Mr Flanagan added: "The EIS has repeatedly said that schools remaining fully operational cannot come at the expense of teacher and pupil wellbeing. Blended and remote learning models are increasingly being adopted in other countries to stem increases in Covid infection. It is time for the Scottish government to rethink its stance, in light of the rising infection levels, particularly if some areas do move into Level 4 in the near future."

Earlier this week, the EIS issued a survey to its teacher members across Scotland, seeking their views on the effectiveness of Covid safety measures in schools. The survey will close next week.

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