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by Gemma Fraser
10 August 2020
Only one in five teachers confident schools are safe

Pupils raising their hands - Image credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Only one in five teachers confident schools are safe

Just one in five teachers are confident that schools can reopen safely, a survey by Scotland’s largest teaching union has found.

The EIS research also revealed that 66 per cent of the 29,867 teachers who responded are anxious about the current arrangements and 53 per cent are not confident that an established capacity to test, trace and isolate is in place to support a safe return.

Furthermore, 72 per cent of teachers indicated their support for the testing of asymptomatic members of staff to help supress the spread of COVID-19 and 63 per cent expressed support for the mandatory wearing of face coverings by senior pupils in classrooms.

Scottish school pupils are due to return to classrooms this week, with some local authorities choosing a staggered approach to a full-scale return.

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: “These findings issue a stark warning to local authorities and the Scottish Government ahead of pupils returning to schools from tomorrow.

“Our survey findings confirm that, even as they return to schools across the country today, Scotland’s teachers are extremely concerned about the risks associated with potential COVID-19 infection in schools.

“This worry will be particularly acute for the significant percentage of teachers identified as being in an ‘at risk’ category (16 per cent of respondents), as well as those living with a family member who is in a high-risk group.

“There is significant concern amongst all teachers on issues such as the large number of pupils in each class, inability to maintain social distancing and the need for the wearing of face coverings to ensure safety in some circumstances.

“These concerns grow more acute based on the age of pupils being taught, with secondary teachers expressing a particularly high level of concern over the potential risks of teaching young adults for long periods of time in an enclosed classroom environment.”

Flanagan added that the EIS had “consistently” supported the principle of reopening schools, but only if the safety of staff and pupils could be assured.

“The very clear message from these findings is that teachers are far from convinced that all necessary steps have been put in place by the Scottish Government and local authorities to make schools safe. This must be addressed now, with pupils returning this week,” he said.

“The EIS will be sharing the results of our survey with local authorities and the Scottish Government, and continuing talks at national and local level to seek resolutions to the concerns raised by our members.

“It is in everyone’s interests for solutions to be found, to ensure that our schools can operate safely as pupils return to the classroom this week.”

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