Teaching union calls for urgent action to protect Welsh schools from Omicron surge
The Teachers’ Union the NASUWT – is calling on the Welsh Government to take urgent action to reduce the potential risk of further disruption to education as a result of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
The Union says that it is conscious that its members desperately want to be able to provide face-to-face teaching for all children and young people in the next academic term without further problems caused by the pandemic.
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said: “Teachers have been on the frontline throughout the pandemic to support pupils and students and provide them with the best education possible.
“However, the rising number of cases of the Omicron variant could cause significant disruption in the next academic term with many teachers being forced to self-isolate.
“The Welsh Government must take immediate action to ensure that schools can continue to operate safely and provide high quality education.
“This is particularly important to protect disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people who have often been affected most by the pandemic.”
The NASUWT is urging the Welsh Government to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission by:
- Providing government-funded air cleaning units to every school and college that needs these devices.
- Supporting household close contacts to self-isolate to reduce the risk of transmission and wider disruption within schools.
- Committing to providing schools with more resources to enable on-site Covid testing.
- Providing improved financial support to schools and colleges for the costs of supply staff to cover for Covid-related absence. ·
- Keeping to a minimum the amount of educational disruption that takes place next term in order to avoid further disruption to examinations, and thereby removing the uncertainty and additional workload for students and teachers.
Neil Butler, NASUWT National Official for Wales, said: “Teachers, pupils and students, and parents will be concerned about the potential risk of further disruption to schools caused by the Omicron variant.
“The Welsh Government must do everything it can to prevent schools from experiencing significant staffing problems next term and further damage to the education of children and young people.”
In response to NASUWT’s comments, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are doing everything we can to protect schools from the impact of the Omicron variant and minimise disruption to learners.
“We continue to keep the situation under review as new evidence and information becomes available and are working closely with our key partners, including trade unions and local authorities.
“All staff and secondary age learners are strongly encouraged to test three times a week and schools can order tests direct on a weekly basis.
“Schools are also able to access the Hardship Fund via their local authorities to cover the costs of a range of Covid related issues, including cover for staff absences.”