EIS urges caution ahead of COVID review schools announcement

Created on: 01 Feb 2021 | Last modified: 01 Feb 2021

Ahead of the Cabinet review of the current lockdown situation, the EIS has urged the Scottish Government to err on the side of caution before planning school reopening.

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan commented, “Everyone is keen to see schools reopen as soon as possible but this can only happen when it is safe to do, both in terms of suppressing community infection levels and also operating schools safely.

"Whilst community infection levels have dropped, they remain high and a premature opening of schools would simply push the R figure up again, leading potentially to a further period of lockdown. The EIS notes that the UK Government, not known for its caution, has indicated mid-March as its target for schools to reopen.

"We would urge the Scottish Government to exhibit an equally cautious approach and not to gamble with school safety.”

Mr Flanagan added, “The significant new factor is the increased transmissibility of the new Covid variant which seems to apply as equally to children as to adults.

"The absence of physical distancing amongst pupils was predicated previously on advice that children played a lesser role in transmission – that would appear to no longer be the case and therefore distancing may be required when pupils return, which would mean the introduction of blended learning.

Reducing the numbers in schools may be critical to their safe operation – for example halving the number of pupils and staff in a classroom doubles the efficacy of the ventilation arrangements, significantly lowering the risk of in class transmission.”