Ross Greer: School return needs more reassurances

Teachers and parents need more reassurances that the return to school next month will be safe, Scottish Greens education spokesperson Ross Greer has said, with further clarity on testing of school staff, social distancing measures and risk assessments for vulnerable young people urgently required.

Responding to the update from Education Secretary John Swinney, Ross Greer said:

“The Scottish Government has promised a final decision next week on whether schools will return full time, but if that is to happen parents and teachers will need more reassurances that it is safe.

“When football players are being tested for COVID before every game, it would be unacceptable to expect teachers to walk into classrooms without the same kind of protection. The Education Secretary said again that he is ‘sympathetic’ to the Greens’ proposed regular testing of teachers and confirmed that he will say more on this next week. We know from the failure to quickly deliver routine testing of care home staff that this policy takes time to implement. Time is fasting running out to have routine testing ready in time for schools to reopen.

“The guidance on social distancing in is now an unclear fudge. Teachers must keep distant from pupils, primary pupils don’t have to distance themselves, but secondary pupils are to somehow keep a distance at the same as being in full attendance. How this is possible in school buildings which don’t have any more space than they did in March hasn’t been explained.

“Given last week’s advice that the burden of requesting protective measures would be put on vulnerable young people themselves, it was reassuring to have the Cabinet Secretary confirm that every school is to carry out a risk assessment which fully takes their needs into account. With what we now know about the virus, those assessments must include the risk to young people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.