Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) teachers should be prioritised for coronavirus risk assessments, educators have said.
Since the danger of contracting Covid-19 and dying from the virus is higher for BAME staff, a "bespoke health and wellbeing offer" for them should be introduced as more pupils return to school, according to the BAMEed Network.
The network has set out advice and a risk assessment for BAME staff working in schools, as it says it has identified a "significant gap in the guidance provided by the education sector" and wishes "to address this immediately".
School openings: What about the risk for black and Asian teachers?
It argues that risk assessments should be carried out for all staff, but especially for those from BAME groups, so that a "personalised risk-mitigation plan" can be put in place.
Coronavirus: Protecting BAME teachers
"Surveys and accounts from various professional medical and nursing bodies indicate that BAME staff face particular issues with being supported with measures to reduce their exposure to risk," the report says.
"The assumption is that this may be the same across other caring professions, including for teaching and school support staff professionals.
"Measures to reduce exposure to risk must be implemented as a priority to protect the lives of staff and students.
"The measures will need to be in place for some time as the pandemic takes its course, so need to be sustainable.
"There is a widespread assumption at senior levels of the NHS that a 'second wave' of Covid-19 is likely in late autumn 2020."
The report adds that testing should be offered to those working in schools "with consideration given to prioritising BAME staff and their families".
It also argues that BAME staff should be considered for redeployment to "lower-risk work areas or home working", and, if working solely from home or redeployment is not possible, "a balance between working from home and school may be a way of reducing Covid-19 risk exposure".
The Department for Education said it has provided clear guidance for schools on how to reduce the risk of virus transmission when they welcome more pupils back from 1 June.
It said schools should be especially sensitive to the needs and worries of BAME members of staff, BAME parents and BAME pupils and should consider if any additional measures or reasonable adjustments may need to be put in place to mitigate concerns if helpful.
A DfE spokesperson said: "We want children back in schools as soon as the scientific advice supports this because being with their teachers and friends is so important for their education and their wellbeing.
"Plans for a phased return of some year groups from 1 June are based on the best scientific and medical advice. The welfare of children and staff is at the heart of all decision making.
"We have engaged closely with the unions throughout the past eight weeks, including organising for them to hear directly from the scientific experts last week, and will continue to do so, including to develop further guidance if required."