Coronavirus: Teachers unhappy with 'vague' DfE advice

Concern that safety guidance does not provide any information on what types of personal protective equipment teachers need

Charlotte Santry

Teacher face mask

Keenly-awaited guidance on how to keep teachers and pupils safe in partially open schools contains no new information on protective equipment for staff and has been branded "vague and unhelpful".

The guidance, published late last night by the Department for Education and Public Health England, recommends several "social distancing" measures such as staggering break times, reducing unnecessary travel on public transport, cleaning classrooms more often, and keeping class sizes small.

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The guidance was published following calls from union leaders for clear advice on issues such as whether there is a need for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks.

However, it does not provide any information on what types of personal protective equipment teachers need, if any, or whether they will be provided with any such equipment.

It states: "We will issue further detailed guidance for settings regarding the supply of personal protective equipment to settings that require it."

The NAHT school leaders' union said it expects "further and better" guidance to be published later today.

However, in the meantime, primary school teacher Oonagh Kelleher said on Twitter that the current situation was a "total minefield" for schools and called the latest document "vague and unhelpful".

Others working in schools expressed similar sentiments.

Further guidance will also be produced on social distancing in special schools, the latest guidance states.

Union leaders yesterday spoke with education secretary Gavin Williamson over the phone about the need for teachers to be protected at work.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, said in response to the latest document: “Last night, we saw the first iteration of the government’s safety guidance for schools. We expect further and better advice to be issued throughout the day today. We continue to engage with the DfE while it is updated.

“School staff are playing a leading role in the fight against coronavirus and it is right that the government should provide them with the expert medical advice, practical guidance and resources needed to keep themselves and children safe.”

The DfE has been contacted for comment.

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Charlotte Santry

Charlotte Santry

Charlotte Santry is deputy news editor at Tes

Find me on Twitter @CharlotteSantry

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