Commenting upon today’s announcement by Education Minister Kirsty Williams to reopen schools to all year groups with effect from 29 June, Wales secretary of the NEU, David Evans said: -

“The Minister’s statement in which she has opened schools to all year groups with effect from 29 June does not sit well with NEU Cymru. It is too much, too soon and whilst splitting year groups into cohorts with staggered starts, lessons and breaks may mean that, at most, a third of pupils may be present at any one time, in the larger secondary schools that will mean hundreds of pupils on site with all the logistical difficulties that will bring in respect of social distancing, cleaning of premises, travel implications, availability of PPE and threats of transmission of the virus.

“Whilst primary schools tend to be smaller, it could still lead to a significant number of students being present across all age groups. We know that factors such as social distancing are virtually impossible the younger the child.

“Increasing operations for all has significant implications for staff. There will be an expectation that all employees will be required to return but teaching professionals and support colleagues are representative of society. There will be members of ours who fall within the clinically extremely vulnerable category and will have received letters requiring them to stay home. There will be members who live with family who fall into that category and cannot be exposed to risk.

“Many others will be in a vulnerable category with chronic illnesses that should again not face any unnecessary exposure. Added together this could mean large legitimate staff absences resulting in pressures being placed on others to cover and expose themselves to more risk.

“We have not yet seen the Technical Advisory Group report also due to be published today. We wonder how that is going to deal with the fact, announced just last Friday by the First Minister, that the R rate in Wales has not decreased in the last 3 or 4 weeks. It currently stands at 0.8 which has to be a serious concern. Any fluctuation upwards could have serious repercussions.

“We do not yet know how the track and trace system implemented this week will fare. It is too early to come to conclusions on the success of this vitally needed process. Further the Minister has given no indication as to how her own 5 principles have been satisfied.”

ENDS

Press contacts:

The National Education Union is an amalgamation of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and National Union of Teachers (NUT), formed on 1 September 2017. Please see the below contact details for assistance:

Contact: David Evans, National Education Union, Tŷ Sinnott, 18 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff CF24 5PJ. Tel: 029 20491818. Mob: 07815 071 164.