Misleading claims that schools are closed has caused chaos and confusion
Teachers understand fully the scale of the national crisis and are willing to play their part in helping the country through these unprecedented times, but they want and deserve reassurance that what they are being asked to do is reasonable and safe for them and their families.
Ms Chris Keates, Acting General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union said:
“Following the announcements on 18 March by the Government that all schools will be closed after Friday 20 March, the NASUWT advice lines have been jammed with hundreds of anxious and stressed teachers seeking guidance on the confusing and often contradictory messages they are receiving from Government, employers and the media.
“Despite the headlines constantly stating that schools are closed, the Government has set out that all schools will need to cater for children of key workers and for vulnerable children during this uncertain period. Special schools are to remain open regardless.
“Schools have been plunged into chaos and confusion as they try to answer such basic questions as who are the key workers, how do we identify their children, what evidence is it reasonable to request from parents and what happens if other children turn up for school.
“Teachers are unclear whether they should be in work or out or what they will be expected to do if they are in work.
“The most overwhelming concern is what steps are being taken to protect their health and welfare given that they are being expected to remain in the front line, continuing to work with children and young people who may be carriers of COVID 19.
“The Government says that its scientific analysis suggests that risk to teachers following the “closure” of schools is low due to 'small numbers' of children who will be in schools. However, these numbers are not spread evenly across the system and some schools have reported that they will need to cater for significant numbers of pupils.
“Teachers in special schools are also concerned that their schools are to remain open throughout. Despite repeated requests from the NASUWT there is still no specific guidance which takes account of the particular challenges teachers in special schools face.
“Teachers understand fully the scale of the national crisis and are willing to play their part in helping the country through these unprecedented times, but they want and deserve reassurance that what they are being asked to do is reasonable and safe for them and their families.
“Giving priority to teachers to be tested for COVID-19 and access to personal protective equipment would help to reassure many that keeping schools open for priority groups of pupils is not only necessary, but also the responsible thing to do.
“The NASUWT has written to Ministers raising these and other issues to secure answers for our members who want to do the right thing.”