Teacher Covid safety grilling for government scientists

EXCLUSIVE: Education unions set for talks with government science and medical advisers over Covid in schools
6th November 2020, 5:00am

Share

Teacher Covid safety grilling for government scientists

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/teacher-covid-safety-grilling-government-scientists
Education Unions Are Set To Grill Government Advisers Over Covid Safety In Schools.

Government science and medical advisers are set to face questions from education unions over the risks of Covid-19 in schools next week.

Tes understands that a meeting will take place involving major education unions including the Association of School and College Leaders, the NAHT school leaders' union, and the NEU and NASUWT teaching unions.

It comes after the government decided to keep schools open during the new four-week national lockdown, which started yesterday.


Rules: All secondaries must make masks mandatory by Monday

Anger: 'Ridiculous' delay to Covid guidance lets schools down

Covid: 'Extremely' vulnerable teachers told 'work from home'


ASCL's general secretary Geoff Barton said that the meeting followed a similar event in May this year with government chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

He said: "It seems clear that the risks of transmission increase the older students get, so we want to understand what the risks are.

"This is a repeat of the meeting we had in May which was with Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance.

"So we will also want to ask whether the evidence [on Covid transmission in schools] has changed since May."

The meeting between unions and government advisers is scheduled to take place next Thursday, Tes understands.

At a coronavirus webcast for union members last night, the NAHT's deputy general secretary Nick Brook outlined questions the union wanted to ask of the government on Covid safety in schools. 

He said: "We will be putting these questions to the government this week and next. Firstly, what more has the government learned about the transmission of the virus. The government, it has to be said, has been pretty poor at keeping the profession informed of latest evidence and insights.

"If the government expects school leaders to look staff in the eye and say it's right that schools remain open, then we need to be in possession of all of the facts in order to answer their questions. Quite frankly, at the moment, we don't have those answers.

"The government needs to share with the profession the latest scientific advice to show why it is safe for pupils and for staff to keep schools open.

"What is driving the second spike? What further evidence do they have on the role that schools have or don't have on the transmission of the virus? And how does transmission differ in different age groups?"

The DfE has been approached for a comment.

Education unions have been critical of the government only publishing updated guidance last night ahead of the new national lockdown, which began today.

The new guidance states that all secondary schools will be expected to make masks mandatory in communal spaces by Monday at the latest.

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