58% of teachers are warning the Government needs to provide more support in order to ensure schools can continue to provide in-person teaching, amid rising Covid case rates.
The call for support, highlighted by the University of Surrey, comes as data published by the Department for Education showed 310,000 children were out of school due to Covid in the first week of the new term whilst 106,000 teachers and staff were also absent.
The Government’s current policy for schools is to keep windows open at all times in order to minimize the risk of airborne transmission of Covid.
Hannah Porteous, a college teacher, told BUzz News that the support they are receiving is ‘limited’ and said: “Handing out CO2 monitors seems like a small attempt at helping schools manage the huge impact of Covid”
“There are no other options; we can’t facilitate online learning easily as students don’t have the technology at home, we can’t split the classes as we are short-staffed due to Covid as it is.”
Rosie, an 18 year-old student, told BUzz News that, despite “measures being put in place”, she: “just didn’t feel safe or comfortable being in the classroom.”
NASUWT, the Teachers Union, published a report branding the Government’s promised 7,000 air purifiers for schools as ‘a small attempt to help schools manage the huge impact of Covid.”
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said: “Ministers have consistently emphasized the importance of ensuring good ventilation in heavily populated settings as a key mitigation in reducing the spread of Covid-19, yet they have consistently failed throughout this pandemic to ensure schools and colleges can be kept as safe as possible by equipping schools with the tools to improve classroom ventilation.”
Another college lecturer, told BUzz News the lack of sufficient ventilation resulted in a whole department having to self-isolate pre-Christmas.
“We all got Covid here because there isn’t any ventilation in this dept: non-existent ventilation. It feels easier to blame students and staff rather than take responsibility for the ventilation and poor decision making generally.”
Bridget Philipson, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, called on the Government to take immediate action to tackle the “renewed wave of Covid chaos”. In a statement she said:
“Thousands of schools are lacking any ventilation support leaving children learning in freezing classrooms…Ministers must now step-up to secure our children’s learning and their futures, with a serious plan to tackle workforce absences and ventilate schools to keep children learning together in class.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Education told BUzz News:
“Schools across the country reopened last week and staff are working tirelessly to ensure settings can stay open for face-to-face learning, and despite the challenges in the first week of term, millions of pupils have returned to be with their friends and teachers.
“Air cleaning units are not needed in the vast majority of classrooms – only where there is poor ventilation that cannot be easily improved. Based on feedback from schools that there are only a small number of cases where good ventilation is not possible, we are supplying up to 8,000 air cleaning units from next week.
“Together with mass testing, bringing in supply staff and the hard work of schools and teachers, we are confident that our measures will maximise classroom time for students.”