Schools must continue to be cautious in maintaining effective COVID mitigations

Created on: 19 Aug 2021 | Last modified: 13 Sep 2021

With pupils and teachers across Scotland now having returned to the classroom, the EIS is calling for caution in the continuing operation of COVID safety mitigations in schools.

A Bulletin was issued to all EIS members earlier this week, highlighting the need for the continuing application of safety mitigations in all schools.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Pupils and staff have been returning to Scotland’s schools over the past week following the summer break. While this is an exciting time for our young people, particularly those who are entering Primary 1 or their 1st year in Secondary, the return to school does bring with it the continuing risk of COVID spread through school communities.

"Most school staff will now have received their vaccinations which offers a degree of reassurance, yet the majority of young people will not have received any form of vaccine. The continuing emergence of new strains of the virus, against which the vaccines may offer less protection, increases the risk of further outbreaks within our school communities. It remains essential, therefore, that schools continue to exercise all due caution in rigorously applying continuing safety mitigations to reduce the risk of COVID outbreaks.”

Mr Flanagan continued, “Following an agreement with the Scottish Government and local authorities, schools have re-opened with largely the same mitigations that were in place pre-summer. This is a sensible step that will reduce the risk of sudden COVID spikes linked to school communities.

"Physical distancing and use of face coverings are continuing on largely the same basis as before the summer, while other measures such as enhanced cleaning and the provision of adequate ventilation in all classrooms remain vital to making our schools as safe as possible for pupils and staff. Case numbers over the summer period continued to be a cause for concern, particularly amongst younger people where many will not have been vaccinated against COVID.”

Mr Flanagan added, “The roll-out of the vaccine programme has allowed the country to move out of lockdown and lift many restrictions, but it is very clear that the virus has not gone away and remains a threat – particularly to those in vulnerable groups.

"The EIS continues to expect local authorities to take all possible steps to protect pupils and staff within those groups, including the continued ability to work from home for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable. While we all want to see life in society at large and in our schools return to normality, we must continue to exercise appropriate caution to reduce the risk of further COVID spread through school communities.”

Larry Flanagan Audio Clip