Teachers say they're kept in dark on pupil Covid tests

Staff 'completely unsettled' by not knowing if they've been in contact with infected students, says union

staff kept in dark over Covid cases

School staff say they are not being told which students have tested positive for Covid-19 and are calling for more information to be shared with them about cases at their schools.

Public service union Unison says it knows of “several cases” where teachers and support staff are not being told which students have tested positive for Covid-19, and says a local authority has refused to give such details to its local Unison branch.

Jon Richards, head of education at Unison, said the situation was “completely unsettling for staff”.

He said: “Surely this is about ensuring safety and stopping the spread [of Covid-19] by providing people with information so that if they’ve been in contact [with the infected person] they can go and get themselves tested.”

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Unison, along with the GMB and Unite unions, has now written to education secretary Gavin Williamson calling for extra measures to halt rising infections.

The unions, which together represent teaching assistants, technicians, catering workers, cleaning staff, caretakers and receptionists, have called on the government to make it clear whether these staff are a priority for testing like teachers.

Mr Richards added: “The government’s lack of clarity means it's not clear if teaching assistants are covered by the new testing rules. But without testing for caretakers and cleaners, some schools won’t open, and pupils and staff won’t be safe.”

The unions are also calling for the size of pupil "bubbles" to be reduced and for face coverings to be made compulsory on school buses. They also say that full pay must be given to lower-paid workers who need to isolate.

Meanwhile, a teacher from County Durham has told Tes how teachers at a neighbouring secondary school have been kept in the dark about the identity of an infected pupil.

The teacher, who did not wish to be named, said: “The school hasn’t told staff which student it was, and the whole year group has been sent home, yet the staff still don’t know whether the student was in their class or not, so they don't know whether they themselves need to go for a test.”

The DfE has been contacted for a comment.

Tes has also asked the Department for Health and Social Care to clarify whether other school staff as well as teachers are a priority for testing.

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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