The National Education Union believe that taking action now will prevent further disruption to the education of children in the future
The UK’s biggest teachers’ union has backed calls for a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown and has said it would support an extended two week half term in order for the measures to be properly implemented.
The National Education Union believes that taking action now will prevent further disruption down the line when it comes to the education of the UK’s children.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “Heads, teachers and school staff understand the educational impact of this, but we also understand that in exponential epidemics early action is essential.
ONS figures from earlier this week suggest that the highest rates of infection come from secondary school pupils and young adults.
Mr Courtney added: “This should be no surprise to either the Prime Minister or the Department for Education.
“Scientists have consistently told them that secondary students transmit the virus as much as adults, and we have warned them that because we have amongst the biggest class sizes in Europe we have overcrowded classrooms and corridors without effective social distancing.
“Our classrooms often have poor ventilation, leading to airborne transmissions, and in many areas we have also have overcrowded school transport where children are mixing across year-group bubbles.
“These children live in families and are part of communities, so even if they have few or no symptoms themselves they are still part of spreading the virus to others, including to teachers and other school staff.”
He said: “Such a circuit-breaker could allow the Government to get in control of the test, track and trace system, and get cases lower to allow the system to work better.”
The two or three week circuit breaker has been proposed and backed by over 674,000 scientific experts.
Independent experts from Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) say that the governmentâs three-tier system is ânot enough to reverse growth.â
Instead, they say that a six week emergency plan is needed to bring infection rates below 5,000/day.
The group proposes a 2-3 week lockdown, including the immediate closure of schools, non-essential retail and business, the leisure and hospitality sectors and places of worship.
It also suggests that physical distancing measures should return to a two metre rule, with a ban on household mixing outside of support bubbles.
Following this âcircuit breakerâ, SAGE suggests that there should be a period of continued restrictions to keep the R number below 1, while allowing schools to reopen.
Professor Christina Pagel of University College London, said: âWe believe a sharp national circuit breaker for 2-3 weeks followed by 3-4 weeks of continuing restrictions is needed to stop the current wave in its tracks, preventing tens of thousands of new cases and thousands of hospital stays.
âThis will buy us precious time to build a public health and social scaffolding to support easing restrictions and restarting our lives. We must not waste this time.â
Sir David King, chair of SAGE, added that an âurgent reformâ of the Test & Trace system is needed, describing it as a ânational scandal.â
The SAGE report states: âEight months into the pandemic, itâs clear that Englandâs find, test, trace, isolate and support (FTTIS) programme is failing, leading the government to rely on a succession of restrictions on people mixing to control the pandemic.
âThe result is that the UK has some of the greatest excess death rates and economic damage anywhere.â
The experts recognise that any new restrictions will have to be accompanied by a package of financial support for individuals and businesses affected.
They added: âGovernment should make isolation financially feasible for all cases and contacts. This was not provided until September 28, since when Â£500 has been provided to properly isolate for 14 days, or Â£7.14 per hour, substantially below minimum wage and hard to access.
âFor five million workers in the gig economy, this provides little incentive. We recommend Â£800 as a minimum.â
News – Teachers’ union backs âcircuit breakerâ lockdown and extended two-week half term