Mark Langhammer, Regional Secretary of the NEU in Northern Ireland has confirmed that the union’s action will be UK wide to include Northern Ireland.
“As a union, and on the basis of “the science”, we will support members who decline to return to unsafe working environments. We call for a two-week gap will allow adequate time for schools to reshape risk assessments and practice for the future in light of changed circumstances. This must extend to early-years settings, too. The new strain of the virus changes things. It is complacent to ignore that children are very efficient carriers and spreaders of the virus, even if less affected themselves.
Clearly, class sizes need to reduce.
Clearly, the concept of social distancing needs to be strictly established.
Protective bubbles, a vital ‘fire-break’ must reduce in size.
Ventilation needs to improve.
Rotational systems are now essential.
The health of pupils, staff and the community must come first, above public exams, selection tests and other ‘pseudo’ priorities.
In some schools, we have seen teachers being forced to conduct remote learning at school! We have seen mass gatherings of staff, wilfully called to large meetings. We have seen recommended two-metre social distancing salami-sliced. And corners cut to undermine the protective ‘bubble’ concept.
Scientific advice and data must be shared more widely.
We agree with Professor Gabriel Scally that government information is “as transparent as a brick wall”.
If we’re “all in this together”, then ‘mushroom’ practice won’t do. It’s time to put the health of pupils, their parents, staff and the wider community first.”
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