The National Education Union (NEU) expects schools and colleges to open to students in September and our reps are working hard to ensure that it is safe to do so. We are supporting school leaders and NEU members by publishing a checklist for safe opening. It sets out issues to be considered and arrangements to be made so that schools can reopen safely.

We want to see our checklist completed in every school.

Nationally, we will continue to press for full consideration of all relevant scientific evidence on matters like transmission.

We want the Government to plan for alternatives to full opening – in the event of a second wave or local lockdowns. And we want the Government to accept that some of its recommended measures may not go far enough, particularly if the virus is more prevalent in September.

The checklist is structured around these 10 key points:

  • Risk assessments must be reviewed and updated to include additional control measures to support a return to full opening.
  • Full consultation with union reps and staff.
  • Each school and college should have an alternative plan in case full opening cannot happen.
  • Measures must be in place for minimising contact and maintaining social distancing between adults and students and between students themselves, both inside and outside the classroom, on arrival and departure and on school transport.
  • Arrangements must be in place for enhanced cleaning, hand washing and respiratory hygiene, for use of protective equipment and for managing suspected and actual cases of the virus.
  • Measures should be taken to reduce the risk for staff who are clinically vulnerable or otherwise at higher risk or who live with people who are.
  • Measures must also be taken to ensure staff wellbeing and avoid increased or excessive workload.
  • Plans must be made to deliver the curriculum in a manageable and appropriate way.
  • Behaviour and pastoral systems should be reviewed and updated.
  • Contingency plans should be made for responding to renewed outbreaks.

Alongside this work at school level, the union is pursuing its 10-point Education Recovery plan for students and their school and colleges. 

As we seek to ‘return to normal’, we must recognise that education in the new academic year will not be normal. Additional support will need to be provided and lessons will need to be learned and applied.