This weekend, the National Education Union advised its members in primary schools that we thought it unsafe to return to work teaching full classes.
We thought all primary schools should move to remote learning except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.
We took this step with huge reluctance. But we knew that schools need to be closed to protect society.
Although children largely do not become ill with Covid-19, they spread it to others. To their parents, their families and into their communities. And the new variant of Covid-19 is spreading easier and faster than before.
SAGE, the Government’s own scientific advisory group, agreed and thought schools needed to remain closed as a vital way of keeping the public safe and our NHS afloat.
We are education professionals, and we all want schools to be open for all pupils. We know, to our very core, how important education is to children’s wellbeing and life chances.
But our members work in crowded buildings with no social distancing, no PPE and inadequate ventilation. They have the right to be safe too.
We could not stand by and see our members, our pupils, their families and the communities we serve put in harm's way. And we need to stop the spread of Covid-19 to buy time for a vaccine to help us back to normal life.
By keeping schools open, our Government was failing to protect children, their families and our communities. And failing its duty of care to education staff, who have worked tirelessly to look after our children during this pandemic.
It should not have required teachers and school staff taking the stand we did. But our members’ efforts, supported by parents and the public, have forced this change of heart.
As education professionals, we have lots of ideas about how to educate and care for our children during this terrible pandemic.
We sent our ten-point education recovery plan to the Government in June and much of it still applies now.
We want to work with the Government to achieve much better outcomes for our nation’s children and young people.
Talk to us. Listen to us. Work with us.
Thank you to everyone who spoke out to #makeschoolssafe and #protect communities.