All our teaching staff have played a vital role in tackling the current crisis. Many schools have remained open during lockdown for the children of key workers and the most vulnerable children in our community and all teachers have been adapting lessons to teach children on-line and monitoring children’s progress via the internet.
The Harlow Labour Party and Harlow’s Labour Councillors would like to put on record our thanks, to the teaching and non-teaching staff, for their important contribution in fighting the virus.
Harlow Labour would like to see pupils return to schools as soon as it is safe for them to do so. Therefore, we welcome and support the National Education Union, which represents over 450,000 teachers across the country, setting out 5 tests for the government to achieve before the phased reopening of schools in Harlow.
These 5 tests state:
Test 1 : Much lower numbers of Covid-19 cases
The new case count must be much lower than it is now, with a sustained downward trend and confidence that new cases are known and counted promptly. And the Government must have extensive arrangements for testing and contact tracing to keep it that way.
Test 2 : A national plan for social distancing
The Government must have a national plan including parameters for both appropriate physical distancing and levels of social mixing in schools, as well as for appropriate PPE, which will be locally negotiated at school-by-school and local authority level.
Test 3 : Testing, testing, testing!
Comprehensive access to regular testing for children and staff to ensure our schools and colleges don’t become hot spots for Covid-19.
Test 4 : Whole school strategy
Protocols to be put in place to test a whole school or college when a case occurs and for isolation to be strictly followed.
Test 5 : Protection for the vulnerable
Vulnerable staff, and staff who live with vulnerable people, must work from home, fulfilling their professional duties to the extent that is possible. Plans must be specifically address the protection of vulnerable parents, grandparents and carers.
Only when these 5 tests can be met is it safe for schools to reopen and only when it is safe should the government look to start the phased opening of schools. Harlow Labour supports the NEU in their negotiations with the government.