PM's Covid tiers are 'baffling for schools', say heads

ASCL says government decision to operate two separate tier systems on managing Covid-19 – one for schools and a new one for areas of risk – is unhelpful
13th October 2020, 6:22pm

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PM's Covid tiers are 'baffling for schools', say heads

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/pms-covid-tiers-are-baffling-schools-say-heads
Geoff Barton, Ascl's General Secretary Has Warned That It Is Baffling For Schools To Face Two Different Tiered Systems For Managing The Risk Of Covid-19.

A union leader has warned that it is "baffling" for schools to face two separate and unconnected tiered systems for managing the spread of Covid-19.

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, has raised concerns following the prime minister announcing a new triple tier system for imposing restrictions on local areas.

This system of medium, high-risk and very high-risk areas is not connected to the four-tier system for keeping schools open during local Covid 19 spikes that the Department for Education announced at the start of the academic year.

The new tiered system says that even in areas of very high risk, schools will be kept open.


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Mr Barton said: "It is baffling that the government has published a tier system for local restrictions without any reference to the tier system it previously announced for schools.

"The DfE has told us that the tier system for schools would be used on a case-by-case basis in the light of local circumstances. This feels unhelpfully complex and disconnected.

"In particular, extremely clinical vulnerable people are 'strongly advised' under the tier system for local restrictions that they should work from home if the Covid alert level is very high, without any explanation of the apparent contradiction between this advice and the fact that some people in this category work in schools that remain fully open."

"To be fair to the government, its intention is obviously to keep schools open and to move to restricted opening only as an absolute last resort, and we have always agreed that keeping schools open must be the priority.

"But it is once again let down by the chaotic manner in which it communicates policies and leaves people confused and frightened at a time when they need clarity."

In August, Tes reported that the DfE had created a four-tier system for ensuring schools can operate during Covid-19 spikes.

The Department for Education described these plans as being for the "worst-case scenario" of having to restrict pupils' access to schools as a result of the coronavirus.

In this system, in tier one any school in an area with local restrictions in place should ensure pupils in Year 7 and above and staff wear face coverings in communal areas.

In tier two, secondary schools should move to a rota system but primaries would remain open to all pupils.

In tier three, secondary schools would remain open only to vulnerable children, the children of critical workers and selected year groups identified by the DfE.

And in tier four, schools would remain open only to vulnerable children and those of critical workers.

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