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Almost half of teachers do not think it is safe for pupils to return to school, union warns

Antonio Chaves/CC BY-SA 4.0

Almost half of teachers do not think it is safe for pupils to return to school, union warns

Almost half of teachers in Scotland do not think it is safe for pupils to return to school this week, according to a poll by the NASUWT union.

In a poll of 780 teachers ahead of schools reopening, the union found that 45 per cent do not think it will be safe for pupils to return, while 42 per cent said they were uncertain.

Meanwhile the survey found that 67 per cent do not feel prepared to go back to their school or college and 87 per cent feel anxious about returning.

More than 70 per cent had not been given assurances by their schools that PPE would be provided.

Schools can re-open from 11 August, with guidance issued to councils stating that children should "return to school as quickly and as safely as possible", and with the First Minister saying all schools should be open from 18 August at the latest.

NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “Teachers need to be given the same level of protection as employees in any other workplaces.

“Our survey has highlighted that teachers have not been given assurances that even basic hygiene measures to help suppress the virus, such as paper towels and soap and hot water, will be made available to them. This is deeply concerning and must be addressed immediately.

“We have also heard from many cases, teachers who have not been told about the safety measures that will be in place to help prevent virus spread.

“The Scottish Government and school employers have a duty to listen to and address teachers’ safety concerns and take urgent action to ensure that schools reopen safely this term.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We agree that the health and wellbeing of pupils, students and staff should be the top priority when it comes to reopening schools and colleges.

“The guidance on preparing for the start of the new school term sets out the approach that must be taken, including a number of health mitigations.

“They include risk assessments, enhanced hygiene measures and Test and Protect.

“In addition, a surveillance programme is being developed for schools, where regular testing and survey data will identify symptoms and infections in the school population.

“This will allow regular reporting on incidences of infection and inform the ongoing development of guidance for schools.”

The survey was conducted between August 5 and August 9.

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