Steve Brine is the Conservative MP for Winchester where he has been their MP since 2010. Prior to that he did spend some time as a journalist so his ability to listen to the public should be relatively competent. His comment yesterday on twitter seems to imply that we all have similar views regarding the return to School in a few days and that he shares those views whereas the teaching unions disagree with us and with him. The article he connected to can be obtained here and it was published on Sunday under the headline “Coronavirus: Schools let down by lack of ‘plan B’, says union”. I won’t repeat the whole article but here are all of the elements that refer to the Union’s comments and requests.
More staff, extra teaching space and greater clarity on what to do if there is a spike in cases is needed for schools to reopen safely, the UK’s largest teaching union has said. The National Education Union (NEU) accused the government of letting down pupils, teachers and parents by failing to have a “plan B” if infections rise….. Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, which represents more than 450,000 members, said the union agreed about the benefits of pupils returning to full-time education, but ministers needed to provide more information on what to do in the event of an outbreak. “Government advice needs to cover the possible self-isolation of bubbles and, in extremis, moving to rotas or to more limited opening. It needs to cover advice to heads about the protections needed for staff in high-risk categories if infection rates rise.” Extra staff should be employed and additional teaching space provided so education can continue “in a Covid-secure manner” if infections rise, Mr Courtney said. He added: “This should include employment of student teachers who have finished their courses and not yet found jobs, as well as mobilisation of supply staff.” The NASUWT teachers’ union said the “critical importance” of social distancing and hygiene had been reinforced by the chief medical officers’ statement.
So having read the whole article and the items above several times I cannot see any of the issues that Steve Brine is claiming is what is a problem. On top of that this morning I was listening to Allison Ferns on Radio Sussex and she was focusing on School returns and in particular on the call from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for children aged 12+ to wear masks and the likelihood that Scottish Schools will adopt that position. So we heard from several parents about their views about Schools and it is very clear that however many parents Steve Brine may or may not have listened to, that there are many concerns in our nation (or certainly here in Sussex). The Unions are not acting as he suggests in the article, and indeed they are being very sensible to protect their members. A large number of teachers are concerned about the spacing and what happens when Schools like the one in Dundee do get hit with COVID-19 in the next few weeks!