Sturgeon: No school closures for Level 4 councils

Union warns of possible industrial action if schools are 'forced to remain fully open' under Level 4 restrictions
16th November 2020, 4:04pm

Share

Sturgeon: No school closures for Level 4 councils

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/sturgeon-no-school-closures-level-4-councils
Nicola Sturgeon: No School Closures For Councils Under Level 4 Coronavirus Restrictions

First minister Nicola Sturgeon has said it is her "objective and intention" that schools will remain open even if some councils move to the highest level of coronavirus restrictions tomorrow.

Over the weekend and again today, the Scottish government has been intimating that some councils - particularly those in the west of Scotland and in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board area - could move into Level 4 when it carries out its weekly review of coronavirus restrictions tomorrow.

However, when asked if schools in Tier 4 will definitely remain open, Ms Sturgeon said: "That is my objective and intention."


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

Research: Pupil attendance rate in Scotland highest in the UK

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


The first minister said: "We don't take lightly issues of school safety -  young people's safety, teachers' and other people working in schools...Again, it's sometimes about which way around we see these things. Yeah, you can say, 'If we have to move to Level 4, schools should close' -  actually we come at it from the other way.

"Sometimes we are asking people, adults, grown-ups, to bear a few more restrictions in order that we can keep the virus at levels where we are able to keep schools open. Why? Because we know it does damage to young people not to be in normal schooling.

Coronavirus: Keeping schools open remains a priority

"Young people have had months out of school already this year and if we can at all avoid it we want to ensure that they don't have further time out of normal full-time schooling, so keeping schools open is part of our overall consideration."

The First Minister says it's her "objective and intention" to keep schools fully open in areas moving to level 4

Responding to my question at the briefing earlier - CMO @DrGregorSmith also said there was little evidence to suggest an increased risk of transmission in schools pic.twitter.com/yYQc3BsDIo

- Alan Smith (@Political_AlanS) November 16, 2020

Ms Sturgeon's comments came in the wake of warnings from Scotland's largest teaching union, the EIS, that a move to Level 4 restrictions will "further heighten concerns over school safety" and will "prompt consideration of industrial action…if schools are forced to remain fully open".

It highlighted the week-on-week increases in both the number of pupils and teachers infected with Covid-19 and also the number of pupils and teachers absent from school.

On Tuesday of last week, 29,486 pupils were absent from school for Covid-related reasons - an increase of 28 per cent on the previous week's figure of 23,034. For teachers, the figure was 1,559 teachers absent for Covid-related reasons and that, the union said, represented an 18 per cent increase on the previous week's figure of 1,326.

However, chief medical officer Gregor Smith said that the data showed teachers were no more likely to catch Covid than similar-aged people working in other jobs.

He also said that the majority of pupil absence was due to isolation, not Covid symptoms or infection.

Dr Smith said: "The majority of those school absences - the rise that you speak about - are caused by the increased number of school-aged children who are isolating as a result of a contact, mainly with household members who have tested positive. And we can actually drill down a little bit further to see that there is actually only 1.2 per cent of those absences which are explained directly by Covid, and that's 0.1 per cent of the school-aged population as well. So these are very small numbers that we see.

"It's inevitable because of the transmission rates that we are seeing in some communities that some pupils will have to isolate because of other members of their household or people who they have had contact with."

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Register for free to read more

You can read two more articles on Tes for free this month if you register using the button below.

Alternatively, you can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters

Already registered? Log in

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Subscribe to read more

You can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters