Teachers are calling on the government to make schools a priority as they struggle to source soap, hand sanitiser and paper towels to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The Department for Education is being urged to divert key supplies to schools if they are expected to remain open, as staff report that widespread panic-buying has made it difficult to buy everyday essentials.
Several teachers shared their concerns on social media after Jamie Nairn, head of a primary school in Northampton, tagged the DfE, education secretary Gavin Williamson and the Number 10 press office in a tweet calling on the government to take action.
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Mr Nairn, who is also president of the NAHT union's Northants branch, wrote: "I’m OK with keeping my school open. But can’t get hand sanitiser anywhere, struggling to get hand wash and paper towels.
"If we stay open for quite a while govt need to help schools become a priority to get these supplies."
I’m ok with keeping my school open. But can’t get hand sanitizer anywhere, struggling to get hand wash & paper towels. If we stay open for quite a while govt need to help schools become a priority to get these supplies. @educationgovuk @GavinWilliamson @Number10press @NAHTnews— Jamie Nairn (@covrules) March 14, 2020
The tweet has been liked by more than 800 people and retweeted by 115.
Primary headteacher Georgina Young said in response: "Government diverting essential supplies to schools in order that we can keep open would be incredibly helpful at the moment.
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"Soap, tissues, toilet rolls, paper towels, disinfectant spray... would all be appreciated."
Sarah Campbell added: "We are having the same problem. Got about 1 week of supplies left. Students with complex needs. If you want us to stay open @GavinWilliamson we need your support in sorting out the supply chain."
I'm in a similar situation. I'm immunocompromised so I'm trying to be extra careful but it's difficult!— Stuart Shepherd (@stushep) March 14, 2020
Have been told I’m selfish, not creative or organised enough, that I should think of the lads who signed up for the war (?), people are glad I’m not their kids’ teacher...— Katherine R 🐝🦡🏴 (@ms_katherine_r) March 14, 2020
Feel this pain! The suppliers seem to think our budgets suddenly multiplied too. 😞— Jen Crittenden (@jenjen1985) March 14, 2020
Some teachers have also reported being overcharged for essential supplies, amid a soaring demand for hygiene products.
Jay Davenport tweeted: "Our regular school supplier has started charging £17 for hand sanitiser this week. Cheers."
And Jen Crittenden wrote: "£27 for 6 bottles on Friday! Carex which is £1.59 in a supermarket :( ".
Our regular school supplier has started charging £17 for hand sanitizer this week. Cheers.— Jay Davenport FCCT 🙋♂️ (@jaydav20) March 13, 2020
The plea for help comes as the government finds itself under increasing pressure to shut schools across the country.
Today, Britain’s largest teaching union has called for schools to be closed and for this year's Sats to be abandoned.
The NEU teaching union also says the government now needs to come up with plans for the "inevitable widespread disruption to GCSE and A-level exams".
A Department for Education spokesperson said: "We recognise schools are facing numerous challenges as a result of coronavirus, and we are continually reviewing how best to support them.
"Yesterday, the education secretary met with organisations representing school leaders as part of ongoing engagement to ensure the outbreak has the least possible impact on children’s education, and assure them that any actions taken will be based on the latest medical and scientific guidance."