We know that you will have been surprised by Scottish Government’s announcement last week that they are planning for the full re-opening of schools on 11th August, and early years establishments from the 15th July, and we know that this has raised a number of concerns.
We want to reassure you that UNISON is working hard to protect your safety, and that of the children you care for, in our discussions with government about these return plans.
It is important to be aware that the full re-opening on 11th August is a planning assumption of Scottish Government. This will only be 100% confirmed by Government to Parliament by 30 July at latest. Councils will plan on this basis and your local UNISON Branch will be heavily involved in making sure these plans are fit for purpose. But at all times decisions made on reopening will be led by the science.
UNISON has outlined our key asks of employers, through the national Education Recovery Groups and in local discussions, which put your safety and that of the children you look after, first.
We have asked for:
- Clarity on the scientific evidence to support full re-opening on the 11th August;
- Clarity on the use of face coverings at work;
- The availability of PPE;
- Provision of adequate hand washing, and other infection control, facilities;
- Funding for enhanced cleaning provision;
- A specific Test and Protect strategy for educational establishments (including routine testing similar to that which has been rolled out to workers in social care;
- Clarity on the processes and procedures to deal with suspected or confirmed local outbreaks;
- Bespoke assessments for specific risks e.g. staff health conditions; known pupil behaviour etc;
- Safe transport.
The Education Recovery Group meets again this week and we are expecting to receive a presentation on the scientific evidence at that from Prof. Tannahill, from the Scientific Advisory Board to the Cabinet.
The Schools and Early Years Recovery Guidance will need to be urgently reviewed – UNISON will be part of this detailed work, arguing at all times to ensure there is a safe return and process in place to protect you.
We will keep in touch with you throughout and your local UNISON Branch Health and Safety Representatives and Officials will be there if any matters of concern arise at school/centre/hub or council level.
We know that public services, and schools and early years in particular, are key to supporting plans for Scotland re-opening for business and we are so proud of the efforts you make every day in support of the children and working people of Scotland.