Just 3 in 5 schools 'have sufficient PPE', admits Gibb

Minister says personal protective equipment resources are 'scarce' and NHS and care home staff must be prioritised

Amy Gibbons

Coronavirus: Only three in five schools have sufficient PPE, says minister Nick Gibb

Only three in five schools have got a sufficient stock of personal protective equipment (PPE) ahead of more pupils returning next week, according to the schools minister.

Speaking today to Commons Education Select Committee, Nick Gibb said PPE was a "scarce resource", and staff working in care homes and the NHS must continue to be prioritised.

He said he understood that three in five (60 per cent) of schools currently have a sufficient stock of PPE.

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This implies that up to two in five (40 per cent) do not have adequate supplies.

Mr Gibb did not specify where he had obtained these figures.

Coronavirus: Do schools have enough PPE?

He was speaking the day after Tes revealed that schools were resorting to purchasing PPE from Amazon as they prepared to reopen to more pupils from 1 June.

Asked about the current situation regarding PPE in schools, Mr Gibb said: "The scientific advice from Public Health England is that the majority of staff in education...will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work, even if they are not always able to maintain that two-metre distance.

"PPE is only needed in a small number of cases where the care routinely involves intimate care of children.

"Having said that, if a child in a school setting does show symptoms of coronavirus, the routine will be that they will be isolated, pending their parents coming to pick up that child.

"And it might be...that child needs comforting, is distressed, is very young.

"And that's why schools do have – and are entitled to acquire if they don't have – a small stock of PPE in such circumstances.

"My understanding is about 60 per cent of schools have sufficient PPE.

"They can use their locally agreed supply chains to obtain PPE. And where that's not possible, they can obtain PPE from the nearest local resilience forum."

Ian Mears, Labour MP for Gateshead, challenged the schools minister on his response, claiming the guidance that he referenced from Public Health England "seems to echo advice that was given to care homes two months ago and then subsequently had to be changed".

Mr Gibb replied: "Well, I can only give you the advice that we have.

"PPE is a scarce resource – it is available, but the priority, of course, has to be care homes; it has to be the NHS."

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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