Following the announcement that primary schools in England could reopen fully for some year groups from 1 June, our members have been contacting us to say how worried they are.
Ministers must stop dodging the issue of safety and provide a clear explanation of how schools will keep pupils, staff and parents safe before any mass reopening.
Our members who work as cleaners, cooks, lunchtime supervisors, teaching assistants, business managers, crossing patrols, caretakers, admin officers, etc., are worried at what they see as the government’s ‘cavalier’ approach to safety in English schools, which will needlessly put their health, and that of children and parents, at risk.
School staff are still in the dark about the availability and use of protective equipment, cleaning products, how social distancing will work when dealing with very young children, and whether track and trace will be up and running to nip any local outbreaks in the bud.
Calls by UNISON, other education unions and the TUC to work with the government to develop a coherent plan to safely open schools have so far fallen on deaf ears.
UNISON head of education Jon Richards said: “A rushed and chaotic reopening of schools will do more harm than good and could well be dangerous.
“Children, parents and staff are worried by the government’s cavalier attitude. They all need to be confident their safety is at the top of the government’s list.
“Valid questions have gone unanswered as schools are pushed to reopen, regardless of whether it’s safe to do so.
“Ministers must pause their plans and work together with unions to create safe schools.”