Teaching unions are already demanding the CLOSURE of schools in a new national lockdown – in defiance of Boris Johnson’s plan to keep them open ahead of press conference tonight
- Nationwide restrictions to be announced by Boris Johnson in press conference
- NEU calls for ministers to introduce school rotas for the end of new restrictions
- UCU said it would be ‘incomprehensible’ if teaching continued in person
Teaching unions are already calling for schools to shut ahead of Boris Johnson’s press conference this evening, in which he is expected to announce a new national lockdown.
There are also calls for universities to move all non-essential teaching online once fresh measures to control the spread of coronavirus are announced.
Educational settings are expected to be told they can remain open in the new lockdown, unlike in the spring when schools, nurseries and universities were forced to shut when the Prime Minister told the country to stay at home.
As well as demanding closures, the National Education Union’s joint general secretary Kevin Courtney also urged ministers to prepare to introduce school rotas for the end of any new restrictions.
The NEU said not including schools and colleges would likely lead to the need for even longer lockdowns in future
Mr Johnson is set to introduce draconian measures next week, which could see everything closed except essential shops and education settings for a month.
But the NEU said such measures would be ‘self-defeating’ while ‘ignoring the role of schools as a major contributor to the spread of the virus’.
Mr Courtney said not including schools and colleges would likely lead to the need for even longer lockdowns in future.
‘The latest figures from the ONS estimate that 1% of primary pupils and 2% of secondary pupils have the virus and that these levels have increased dramatically since wider opening in September,’ he said.
‘NEU analysis of ONS figures shows that virus levels are now nine times higher amongst primary pupils and an astonishing 50 times higher amongst secondary pupils.
‘The National Education Union called for a two-week circuit break over half-term to include schools, which the Wales Government and the Northern Ireland assembly have done – but the Government in Westminster has ignored this call.
The National Education Union’s joint general secretary Kevin Courtney, pictured, also urged ministers to prepare to introduce school rotas for the end of any new restrictions
‘More severe measures are now called for as a result, the Government should not make this mistake again.
‘The Government should include all schools in proposals for an immediate national lockdown and as a minimum be preparing for school rotas at the end of that period, including by actually meeting its promise to deliver broadband and equipment to those children who do not have them.
‘It is also vital that the Government ensure proper financial support for all those affected by lockdown including crucial supply teachers and other staff.’
Meanwhile, the University and College Union (UCU) said it would be ‘incomprehensible’ if teaching continued in person during the new lockdown.
Figures put together by the union suggest that there have been more than 35,000 cases on campuses since term started last month.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘The health and safety of the country is being put at risk because of this government’s insistence that universities must continue with in-person teaching.
‘It would be incomprehensible if universities were allowed to continue to do this after the outbreaks we have seen on campuses across the country this term.
Jo Grady of the University and College Union (UCU) said it would be ‘incomprehensible’ if teaching continued in person during the new lockdown
‘Ministers must tell universities to move all non-essential in-person teaching online as part of any national lockdown.’
The body has been campaigning for a total shift online for some time, and previously launched a petition demanding that the switch was made ‘where possible’.
Educational settings are expected to be told they can remain open in the new lockdown, unlike in the spring when schools, nurseries and universities were forced to shut when Boris Johnson told the country to stay at home.
Earlier this week it was reported that more than half of secondary schools have pupils self-isolating as a result of Covid-19.
About 6% to 7% of state school pupils did not attend class for coronavirus-related reasons on October 22, according to the Department for Education (DfE) statistics.
Approximately 26% of schools, excluding those on half-term, said they had one or more pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a Covid-19 case at school, compared with 21% the week before.
This represents 55% of secondary schools and 20% of primary schools.