Lessons must continue

With many schools across Somerset returning in the next 7 days, government is insisting lessons should continue. As COVID infection levels increase, new measures will be put in place to protect children in school. Face masks will be compulsory in classrooms (except those with a medical exemption) from the start of the new term. The measure is for children in year 7 and above. This will be at least until 26 January, with a further review promised to consider if that should be extended.

The National Education Union agrees with the measure. In a statement it noted: “masks in secondary school classrooms are overdue. While there are drawbacks, it is clear the Omicron variant poses a “very significant additional risk”

Today Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has announced an additional 7,000 air cleaning units will be provided. This will be for early years, schools and colleges to improve ventilation in teaching spaces. As there are over 24,000 schools and colleges around the country, it begs the question “who will get one?”

Meanwhile Ofsted has already confirmed that it will not be inspecting secondary schools. At least not during the first week of term in January, as schools undertake on-site pupil testing.

One comment

  • Married to a retired Teacher

    My Wife is 68 and retired secondary school teacher.

    There are a number of flaws in the plan to get retired teachers to cover teaching absences from covid:

    1. Older retired folk are in some of the most at risk groups.

    2. In terms of risky workplaces, schools must rank as almost the most risky after the NHS, as you are relying on the behaviour of children, who are currently a source of many covid infections and love to socialise in groups etc.

    3. Hardly any council staff or civil servants are back working in their offices with a far lower level of risk than schools with crowded classrooms. Will staff in the Local Education Authority be redeployed to work in schools with teaching absences?

    4. The Government has had 18 months or more to prepare schools with better infection mitigations yet not enough seems to have been invested. For example, does every classroom have a CO2 monitor to show when ventilation is inadequate? Is there sufficient testing available to support safe working practices?

    5. I am immune compromised so HM Gov has sent me a personal at home PCR test that, if sent back and tests positive, results in the new anti-covid viral drugs being automatically sent to me. We have been very careful not to mix socially over Christmas and the New Year, so why would we compromise that by my Wife going into the high infection risk covid Omicron environments in schools right now?

    6. If she did want to go back as a supply teacher (were our circumstances different) she would not want to be forced to go through an employment agency adding 20% to school costs for her work. Why can’t the Local Education Authority co-ordinate volunteers (as the NHS has for the vaccine centres) and keep costs down?

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