Teaching unions across the UK and Ireland are warning national leaders not to reopen schools too early.
The British Irish Group of Teacher Unions has written to the education ministers of all five nations in which the million staff it represents work.
Its letter warns the ministers of the “very real risk of creating a spike in the transmission of the virus by a premature opening of schools”.
Test and trace measures must be fully operational before reopening, it says.
And there must be:
- “significant operational changes… in place to ensure effective social distancing” in schools
- strong hygiene routines linked to thorough cleaning practices
- appropriate protective personal equipment, where required
The was signed by leaders of 10 teaching unions, including the National Education Union, the National Association of Schoolmasters and Women Teachers, which between represents the bulk of teachers in England and Wales, and Scottish and Irish teaching unions.
Scotland and Wales have already sketched out plans for a phased return of schools, with England’s Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, saying he will take a phased approach too and head teachers will be given plenty of notice.
- 1 June earliest ‘realistic’ date for re-opening schools, say heads
- Schools will reopen in phases, says Williamson
It is expected children in the last year of primary school and then those in the pre-GCSE year will be prioritised.
Reports have suggested 1 June would be the earliest reopening date in England.
Schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were closed in the last week of March, with Irish schools shutting a little earlier.