Unions set out needs for safe reopening of schools in letter to Education Secretary

The TUC is today (Friday) publishing a joint statement that was sent yesterday evening to the Secretary of State for Education, on behalf of unions with members in the education sector, outlining the measures needed for the safe reopening of schools.

The statement from GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, UNISON and Unite sets out key principles and tests for the reopening of schools in England to ensure the safety of children, parents, staff and the communities they serve.

The principles and tests include (see notes for the full statement):

  • Safety and welfare of pupils and staff as the paramount principle
  • No increase in pupil numbers until full rollout of a national test and trace scheme
  • A national Covid-19 education taskforce with government, unions and education stakeholders to agree statutory guidance for safe reopening of schools
  • Consideration of the specific needs of vulnerable students and families facing economic disadvantage
  • Additional resources for enhanced school cleaning, PPE and risk assessments
  • Local autonomy to close schools where testing indicates clusters of new covid-19 cases

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Parents and staff need full confidence that schools will be safe before any pupils return.

“The government must work closely with unions to agree a plan that meets the tests we have set out. Those discussions must include unions representing all school workers, not just teachers.

“The best way to do this is through a national taskforce for safe schools, with government, unions and education stakeholders. Schools must also get extra funds from government to pay for essential safety measures like PPE and additional cleaning.”

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