Sort out testing… or else: Teaching union warns Government schools could be forced to close again

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Sort out coronavirus testing… or else: Teaching union warns Government that schools could be forced to close again unless emergency measures are taken

  • Union demands children and school staff be made a ‘high priority’ for testing 
  • It tells PM to not take support for the wider reopening of schools ‘for granted’
  • The union also suggests the creation of socially distanced ‘Nightingale Schools’ 

Schools could be forced to close unless the Government takes emergency measures, a teaching union warned yesterday.

In a fresh threat, the National Education Union told Boris Johnson that he should not take support for wider reopening of schools ‘for granted’.

The NEU has written to the Prime Minister demanding that children and staff be made a ‘high priority’ for testing.

Students at St Columba’s High School, Gourock are seen lining up to disinfect their hands. The union was accused of attempting to block children’s gradual return to school before the summer holidays

The Government should ‘move towards asymptomatic testing of staff and older pupils’ and reduce class sizes to minimise Covid transmission and ‘avoid rota operation wherever possible’, it said.

The union also suggests the creation of socially distanced ‘Nightingale Schools as well as Nightingale Hospitals’.

The letter says that coronavirus cases could ‘return us to March levels within a few weeks if urgent action is not taken’.

Joint NEU general secretaries Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney say: ‘The situation is markedly worse in some localities and we and our members are disturbed that 44 districts are now on your intervention list.’

The NEU has previously warned ministers it must be informed of all school outbreaks if lessons are to continue across the country. Students are pictured above at the King Edward VI High School for Girls in Birmingham

The NEU has previously warned ministers it must be informed of all school outbreaks if lessons are to continue across the country. Students are pictured above at the King Edward VI High School for Girls in Birmingham

Referring to the infection rate R number, they add: ‘We hope that you will be able to get this situation under control quickly but, if you cannot, then we believe that you will have to take steps to reduce wider school opening in these areas to help get R below 1.

‘School leaders, teachers and support staff have supported the wider opening for all pupils and worked hard to make it as safe as possible, but you cannot, and must not, take this support for granted.’

The NEU has previously warned ministers it must be informed of all school outbreaks if lessons are to continue across the country.

The union was accused of attempting to block children’s gradual return to school before the summer holidays.

In May, the union attracted huge criticism when footage emerged of NEU leaders discussing how to ‘threaten’ head teachers who backed plans for a phased return to the classroom from June 1.

The comments were made in Zoom meetings for thousands of NEU members, recorded on May 14, and posted on the union’s YouTube account.

Students in Doncaster are pictured wearing masks. In a fresh threat, the National Education Union told Boris Johnson that he should not take support for wider reopening of schools ¿for granted¿

Students in Doncaster are pictured wearing masks. In a fresh threat, the National Education Union told Boris Johnson that he should not take support for wider reopening of schools ‘for granted’

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