Commenting on updated guidance published today ahead of a second national lockdown, detailing new requirements for face coverings amongst other measures, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“With grating familiarity, the Government has once again delivered new guidance to schools at the eleventh hour.

“The growth of virus cases in secondary schools is shocking, with cases 50 times higher on October 23 than at the start of September. Cases were also nine times higher in primary schools. The virus levels are leading to many children being sent home as bubbles close.

“Clearly the Government needs to find ways to break transmission networks in schools and colleges. It must prioritise schools for access to rapid turnaround tests like those being trialled in Liverpool, and should be making plans for secondary schools and sixth form colleges to move to a rota operation where children are taught every lesson but are at home some of the time.

"It is absolutely right for the government to say that clinically extremely vulnerable staff and students should be working at home.

“Requiring face coverings when moving around secondary schools is welcome, but their use more widely must be considered and other measures must be taken on social distancing. Much more needs to be done to make schools and colleges safe.

"We cannot afford this Government's constant slow responses. The opportunity for a circuit-break at half term was squandered. Now we have this second lockdown, which will not work if schools and colleges stay open without the safety measures needed to prevent the steady rise in cases which ultimately spreads to the wider community. We need more extensive solutions and in particular a plan for rota operations after we emerge from this late lockdown.”

ENDS

2020-199-NEU

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