Throughout the pandemic, our key workers have struggled in impossible situations to support us all. Our teachers, teaching assistants, special educational needs support staff, caretakers and office staff have supported and taught our children tirelessly.
That's why NHS Staff Voices supports the National Education Union resolution and the statement from Saturday 2nd January (see below) that all schools must remain closed until they're safe.
Infection rates have risen significantly despite the closure of schools over Christmas and New Year and the new variant is spreading far more rapidly than in March, with a tidal wave of COVID-19 patients hitting the already overstretched NHS in recent weeks. More and more hospitals across the country are reporting a shortage of oxygen and unsafe staffing ratios placing all our staff under immense pressure. The Government’s scientific advisory group, SAGE, has called for all schools to be closed in January to keep the R rate below 1 and prevent further death and suffering. Opening schools with an R rate above 1 and without further safety measures will cause more deaths and suffering amongst teachers and support staff, as well as those parents, grandparents and community members who will inevitably become infected via our children.
School staff dedicate their lives to teaching and nurturing our young people. As healthcare professionals dedicated to caring for the entire country, we know how difficult this decision must be for the National Education Union and its 450,000 members. Throughout this pandemic, the government has failed in its basic duty in keeping key workers safe, whether via its shambolic and corrupted handling of the PPE provisions in the NHS or providing safety in the classroom by ensuring ventilation and social distancing. Difficult decisions to keep staff, children and communities safe are being made by the NEU in the face of overwhelming government failures.
NHS staff stand in solidarity with our colleagues in the National Education Union and call on the government to instruct all schools to move to remote learning for the first two weeks of January, remaining open only for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.
The resolution reads,
This branch/organisation notes:
- The emergency pandemic situation. Cases, admissions and deaths are surging at a time when hospitals are reaching or have passed capacity.
- The certainty that reopening schools will accelerate the surge. SAGE experts have said that premature school opening will ensure R number stays above 1.
This branch/organisation believes:
- The government is wrong to push for any schools to reopen.
- The National Education Union is right to tell its members that it is not safe to go back to school.
This branch/organisation resolves:
- To send a message of support to the NEU or your local branch of the NEU.
- To support action by teachers and support staff in every way possible.
You can read more about the NEU's position and Keep Our NHS Public's statement of support here.
Dr Hosnieh Marbini
NHS Staff Voices