Coronavirus: 'Tell us how many teachers have died'

NEU calls on DfE to say how many teachers have had Covid, and says extremely vulnerable staff should work from home

John Roberts

Coronavirus: The DfE should tell us how many teachers have died, says the NEU union

School union leaders have asked ministers to tell them how many teachers and support staff have tested positive, been hospitalised and died from Covid-19 since the full reopening of schools in September.

NEU teaching union joint general secretaries Kevin Courtney and Mary Bousted have also urged schools standards minister Nick Gibb to tell schools that clinically extremely vulnerable staff should not be returning to work next week.

The union leaders have written to the minister following talks between unions and the Department for Education today over the coronavirus crisis.

Guidance: 'Extremely' vulnerable teachers can return to work

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Coronavirus: Call to protect vulnerable teachers at risk in schools

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When the second national lockdown came into force, clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) school staff were advised to work from home.

But now the government has said that this restriction will come to an end when the lockdown is lifted this week.

Coronavirus: Call for vulnerable school staff to work from home

Tes revealed yesterday that new Department for Education guidance says that all staff can attend school in all three local restriction tiers once the country comes out of the national lockdown.

The NEU has taken issue with this change in the guidance.

In a letter to Mr Gibb, Mr Courtney and Dr Bousted say: “We have raised with you our belief that it is not safe for CEV members of school staff to return to school-based working from December 3.

“We urged you to tell schools that they should maintain that CEV staff should continue working from home for the present and that other disabled and or vulnerable staff should have their risk assessments re-evaluated.”

The union leaders have also called for more information about Covid's impact on schools to be shared with teachers.

The letter adds: “As part of your duty of care to education staff, we are confident that you are collecting data about the risks they face and therefore we would urge you to share with us, for each week since September: 1. The number of teachers and support staff who have tested positive. 2. The number of teachers and support staff who have been hospitalised 3. The number of teachers and support staff who have died.”

Their letter also calls on the government to share available demographic information on the age, sex and ethnicity of school staff affected by Covid-19. 

The letter adds: “We realise that we have far less data available to us than the department has.  

"We would therefore urge you to share with us and with the profession what projections you have around virus levels and absence in primary and secondary schools in the various regions and local authority areas for the period between now and Christmas.” 

The general secretaries have questioned the government’s refusal to allow schools to move to rotas.

They said understanding the department’s Covid projections in schools might help them to understand “the reasoning behind your apparent determination that there should be no move to any period of online learning – or at least not in any planned way”. 

They add: “We also appreciate that these projections could have significant uncertainties – but we are sure you must have such projections: otherwise, you would just be flying blind.”

The DfE has been approached for comment.


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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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