Tue 17 Nov, 2020

The Scottish Parliament is set to back more protections for school staff and pupils during the COVID-19 pandemic, in a debate brought forward by the Scottish Greens.

The party’s education spokesperson Ross Greer has proposed a motion for debate tomorrow [Wednesday 18 Nov] raising concerns over reports that clinically vulnerable teachers have been pressured to work despite the advice of their GPs, or told to turn off their NHS track and trace app.

The motion instructs the Scottish Government and councils to ensure that clinically vulnerable staff are supported to work from home or a safer alternative setting, or if this isn’t possible to be placed on leave without loss of income.

The motion also calls for regular weekly testing to be available for all staff and senior pupils and for the Scottish Government to fund the recruitment of 2,000 additional teachers to ensure that schools can meet safe staffing requirements which managing Covid-related absences.

As of 10 November 2020, 29,486 pupils and 2,615 staff were absent from Scottish schools for Covid-19 related reasons, with absence rates affecting areas with higher levels of deprivation more.

Commenting, Ross Greer said:

“For many teachers, support staff and their families, the return to full-time schooling has been extremely stressful, particularly since the second wave of the virus began. The very least our school staff deserve is to feel safe at work. Instead, they are being made to feel expendable.

"Teachers with serious health conditions are being bullied into classrooms despite advice from their GP, social distancing is clearly impossible and staff absences are bringing some schools close to the point of having to close.

“No one wants to disrupt the education of our young people more than it already has been, but this isn’t a choice between education and safety. If we don’t take these steps, like recruiting additional staff and making testing more widely available, greater disruption and even school closures will be inevitable.”

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