Coronavirus: ‘Issue teachers with protective clothing’

Union says number of teachers being asked to come into school still ‘madness’ in some areas

Coronavirus: ‘Issue teachers with protective clothing’

Some 50 staff arrived to look after one student in a Scottish school this morning, said Seamus Searson, the general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association.

“This is complete madness and a sign of a lack of clear guidance from above,” he told Tes Scotland.

Mr Searson said that confusion over who counted as a key worker remained and called for greater clarity – yesterday the EIS teaching union said that some councils had "flouted" Scottish government advice over coronavirus and large numbers of staff and pupils were continuing to be asked to come into school.


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Mr Searson said that his union had today reaffirmed its guidance to teachers first sent out on Friday.

Teachers, he said, should only attend work to supervise pupils if a risk assessment had been carried out and only teachers who had volunteered should be asked to go into school so that staff with underlying health conditions were not putting themselves at risk – or teachers who were simply “frightened and worried” did not feel compelled to go in.

He called for schools in Scotland to follow the example of some schools in Northern Ireland where staff and pupils had been issued with protective clothing.

Mr Searson said: “There was a school in Derry on the news last night where staff and pupils were provided with a full set of protective clothing on arrival. If not worn the pupils were not being let in. This should be seriously considered in Scotland to reassure staff.”

Mr Searson’s comments come in the wake of a Twitter poll conducted by Tes Scotland, which asked school staff how many people in total had been in their school on Monday. While most had 10 or fewer people in them, a significant minority had over 50. The poll attracted 577 responses.

A number of teachers commented that their schools were indeed closed this week – or staff had only popped in for a couple of hours to pick things up.

But one teacher said there had been more than 45 staff at their school and three pupils; another pointed out that the number of staff and pupils in school could rise later in the week when councils expand their provision to include category two and three key workers.

At the moment many councils are only allowing category one key workers’ children to attend and some councils, such as Fife and Perth and Kinross, are not due to start providing this service until later this week.

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