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Photo: Pixabay / Public Domain

Photo: Pixabay / Public Domain

The government has failed teachers and students and they have no Plan B as cases continue to rise

Reposted from NorthEast: Campaign4SafeSchools

With over 40,000 deaths directly linked to Covid-19, this government has lurched from crisis to crisis. Rather than taking responsibility they seek to blame the victims. Care home deaths were blamed on carehomes and not on the guidance that they produced. An imminent second spike is blames on the youth not following guidance rather than on the decision to choose profit over people and reopen the economy.

In the two weeks since the government insisted on the full reopening of schools without social distancing or adequate protections coronavirus cases have risen dramatically to the point where local authorities no longer trust the government to take sensible action and have been forced to act themselves. The rising cases are not the fault of students. They’re not the fault of school staff. They’re not the fault of parents.

The rise in the cases since the reopening of schools is the fault of the Conservative government which had ignored the voices of those on the front line at every turn.

Educators want our schools to be open, they want their students to be learning and laughing together. But they also want their students and their communities to be as safe as they can be.

Without additional funding for cleaning Covid-19 will linger in our schools. After a decade of government cuts stripping education budgets to the bone, schools do not have the financial resources to support additional cleaners, cleaning supplies and masks for those students unable to provide their own.

Testing is inadequate: children, parents and staff alike are having to self-isolate as they try desperately to get a test or wait for their results. Without testing schools are unable to safely staff their environments. Already we see schools having to partially close and families being forced into unpaid leave whilst days go by awaiting available tests.

Without the space to work in safely schools are forced to cram thirty students into small rooms – rooms too small for social distancing. Schools need access to space so that students can be safely educated. When we can build hospitals in weeks which we only use for months it is not unreasonable to ask the government to allow local authorities to be given the ability to repurpose public buildings.

In order to safely educate children schools will need to have the funding to hire additional staff in order to keep class sizes low and minimise the risk of infection. This is a cost that schools cannot meet and so support from the government is vital if we are to educate our students in a safe space with qualified staff.

When schools were partially closed in March, the government promised that struggling families would receive all of the technological support they would need to be able to access remote learning. Most families are still waiting for that support. Rural communities are suffering from inadequate broadband. With the rising cases schools will have to close to more and more and without technological support struggling families will find themselves increasingly isolated.

We support the north eastern districts of the National Education Union as they demand:

  • Accessible testing for staff and students
  • Funding for cleaning and for additional staff
  • Space to teach
  • Technological support for struggling families

We support the calls of all educators for a clear, comprehensive and manageable Plan B – something we do not believe the government currently has.

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