Union warns schools face ‘significant disruption’ due to Omicron

The NASUWT has called for measures to be put in place to avoid more disruption to pupils and staff. 

Union warns schools face ‘significant disruption’ due to Omicron iStock

A teaching union has warned schools face “significant disruption” in the upcoming academic year unless the Scottish Government takes “immediate action”.

Following the emergence of new variant Omicron, which has led to a number of coronavirus restrictions being put in place in Scotland, the NASUWT has called for action to avoid more disruption to pupils and staff. 

The union has urged ministers to provide government-funded air cleaning units to schools and colleges as well as providing schools with more resources to undertake on-site Covid testing.

Improved financial support to cover supply staff due to Covid absences has also been requested, with politicians urged to keep educational disruption “to a minimum” for those due to sit exams.

It comes as Scotland reported record levels of coronavirus cases over the festive break.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: “Teachers have been on the frontline throughout the pandemic to support pupils and students and provide them with the best education possible.

“However, the rising number of cases of the Omicron variant could cause significant disruption in the next academic term with many teachers being forced to self-isolate.

“The Scottish Government must take immediate action to ensure that schools can continue to operate safely and provide high quality education.”

Mike Corbett, NASUWT national official for Scotland, added: “Teachers, pupils and students, and parents will be concerned about the potential risk of further disruption to schools caused by the Omicron variant.

“The Scottish Government must do everything it can to prevent schools from experiencing significant staffing problems next term and further damage to the education of children and young people.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Teachers have been outstanding throughout the pandemic and we can’t thank them enough. The safety and wellbeing of pupils, teachers and school staff is our top priority.

“Our updated guidance on reducing Covid risks in schools is informed by expert advice and the views of those on the Covid Education Recovery Group, which includes teachers’ representatives.

“We know this is a concerning time and we will continue to closely monitor the situation and keep the schools safety guidance under regular review, while focusing on minimising further disruption to learning.

“Our guidance for return to school includes a number of enhanced protections, including approaches to CO2 monitoring and ensuring good levels of ventilation are maintained, backed by £10m of additional funding to local authorities to complete initial CO2 assessments of all learning, teaching and play spaces in their schools.”

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