Government must set out how plans for wider school reopening will meet obligations under the Equality Act 2010
The NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union has raised urgent concerns with the Prime Minister over the re-opening of schools and the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 infections and deaths on black and minority ethnic children, young people and adults
NASUWT's General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach has called on the Government to set out how its five tests and commitments to the country will be addressed in terms of equality impact in general, and, specifically, in relation to the impact on black and minority ethnic populations.
Dr Patrick Roach said:
“The Government must make public the evidence and assessment on which it is relying to conclude that the wider reopening of schools will not lead to further discriminatory impacts in the transmission of the Coronavirus.
“Schools cannot be expected reasonably or responsibly to plan for wider reopening without access to this critical information.”
Under the Equality Act 2010 all public bodies, including the Government, have to give due regard to the need to achieve the objectives set out under s149 of the Equality Act 2010. This is to:
(a) eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Equality Act 2010;
(b) advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it;
(c) foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
Dr Roach added:
"The NASUWT is concerned as the Government moves to phase two of easing lockdown, that any measures introduced by Government or by schools should not force the Reproduction rate of the virus - the “R” - back up over 1, either for the population as a whole or for sections of the population based on their protected characteristics.
"The NASUWT has an obligation to its members to act to protect their safety, including their rights under the Equality Act 2010.
"We are calling for urgent clarification as to how the Government's five tests and the commitment to reopen schools to more children from 1 June will take into and contribute towards meeting the Government's statutory obligations under the Equality Act 2010.
“The NASUWT is also asking the Prime Minister to make clear, before seeking to confirm that the five tests have been met, that the “R” rate for black and minority ethnic communities is also below 1 in line with the commitments he has previously given to the country.”
Earlier this month, Dr Roach signed a joint letter to the Prime Minister alongside more than 70 BAME British figures calling for an independent public inquiry into the disproportionate deaths from Covid-19 amongst Britons from minority backgrounds.