Unions call for staggered return to school

Nine education organisations have joined together to issue a statement on the wider opening of schools and colleges in England.

The unions say schools should only open schools fully on 8 March if the scientific evidence is "absolutely clear that this is safe". At this, the unions says that the government should go no further than a phased return to school so there is sufficient time to assess the impact before moving to the next phase.

The unions says that the full reopening of schools will bring nearly 10 million pupils and staff into circulation in England – close to one fifth of the population and that this necessitate a cautious approach with wider school and college opening phased over a period of time. This is the approach being taken in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It allows public health experts to assess the impact of the first phase before moving to the next, the statement says.

The statement is issued ahead of the Prime Minister’s expected announcement on this issue on Monday. The signatories are the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), GMB, National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), NASUWT, National Education Union (NEU), National Governance Association (NGA), Sixth Form Colleges' Association (SFCA), Unison, and Unite.

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