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by Gemma Fraser
24 April 2020
'Impossible' for schools to function as normal with social distancing, warns union

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'Impossible' for schools to function as normal with social distancing, warns union

Scotland’s leading teaching union has warned that schools could not operate as normal with social distancing rules in place.

The EIS warning comes after Nicola Sturgeon revealed the Scottish Government was considering options for returning children to school, including alternating weeks for pupils and redesigning classrooms as a way of enforcing social distancing.

But the teaching union argues it would be “impossible” for schools to operate as normal and schools will remain closed for some time.

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: “It is clear that schools will remain closed, other than the hub centres, for some time yet. Even after the lockdown has been lifted or partially lifted, it would be impossible for schools to operate as normal while measures such as social distancing remain in place.

“When we reach a point where schools can re-open, it will require a wide-scale reorganisation of the ways in which they operate.

“Classrooms are, by and large, fixed spaces for example, so smaller class groupings will be necessary to allow social distancing. That may limit the number of pupils attending at any one time and require an element of prioritisation, or the introduction of rotas.

“Being able to ensure the health and wellbeing of pupils, staff and the wider school community is a priority.

“Parents would need to feel comfortable sending their children back to school, and teachers would need to be confident that schools were once again safe places to work.

“For the EIS, that means Scotland would need to have the capacity to test, trace, and track the virus, in order to limit its spread. That doesn’t seem to be there as yet.”

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