Teachers are calling on the Department for Education to publish weekly data on the number of confirmed Covid cases among staff in schools amid growing fears that the true numbers are being hidden to conceal the "true extent of transmission in schools."
The NASUWT teaching union, which this week raised the alarm after it found teachers were being told to pause the NHS contact tracing app when at school, says it is becoming “increasingly concerned” at the lack of transparency around Covid data for schools.
NASUWT general secretary Patrick Roach said: “Our members are already concerned that there are insufficient safeguards in schools.
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“Any attempt to withhold information will only stoke fears that the government is trying to hide the true extent of transmission in schools and the impact this is having on the profession".
While the DfE already publishes weekly attendance figures for pupils, including data on the proportion of pupils with suspected and confirmed cases of coronavirus, the NASUWT is calling for more data, including the rate of infection of teachers, and the prevalence rate in teachers and pupils compared with the wider population.
It also wants a breakdown of infection rates in different educational settings, including schools, colleges, sixth form colleges, residential schools, special schools and pupil referral units.
Earlier this week, Tes reported secrecy in schools over which staff were off with Covid.
Today the union has also called on ministers “as a matter of urgency” to clarify the process that schools are following for reporting confirmed Covid cases in staff.
Earlier this month, its survey showed that just one-third of teachers thought measures to control the spread of the coronavirus in their school were adequate, and warned some employers were “becoming complacent” in their approach to ensuring staff safety as well as refusing to consult with the workforce or trade unions.
Dr Roach told Tes today: “The NASUWT calls on the government to issue guidance to all employers making it clear that they must provide any data relating to confirmed positive cases when requested from trade unions, including the equality impact of coronavirus transmission in schools.”
The DfE says staff in schools are not at higher risk than workers in other sectors, and that it has already strengthened measures to reduce transmission in schools, including requiring face coverings in all secondary schools in communal areas outside classrooms.