The EIS has called on all of Scotland's local authorities to adhere to Scottish Government health advice in developing suitable models for education during the COVID-19 crisis.

The EIS is emphasising new Scottish Government rules stating that home working for students and staff must be the default model, except in exceptional circumstances.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "It is absolutely essential that Scotland’s local authorities develop models of education provision that will minimise the risk of the spread of the COVID-19 virus amongst students, staff and the wider community."

"This should be based on the Scottish Government rules on the presumption of schools closing to support social distancing, students and staff working remotely from home where possible, and strictly limiting pupils attending hub facilities to the children of key workers without another childcare option and, also, certain categories of vulnerable children."

Mr Flanagan added, "Failing to take these steps could substantially increase the risk of infection to pupils and teachers and, as a consequence, also increase the risk of the COVID-19 virus being passed on to parents and family members who are essential workers such as those working in the frontline of NHS services."

"The clear instruction from the Scottish Government is that the default position is that schools must close, except in exceptional circumstances such as the need to ensure the welfare of vulnerable pupils and to make provision for the children of Category-1 workers. These steps are about saving lives – there cannot be any expectation that things in schools will continue as normal."

Mr Flanagan concluded, "We have had a number of local situations reported to us where some Councils have acted unilaterally, cutting trade unions out of discussions, and making arrangements that have flouted the Scottish Government advice  - e.g. holding meetings of large numbers of staff where social distancing is impossible, bringing cohorts of  pupil into schools who are neither at risk nor children of key workers, and insisting that teachers be in school buildings for no specific purpose when remote working is the default position recommended by the Scottish Government."

"Employers need to follow the clear health advice which has been published."

The EIS has issued updated advice to its members, addressing questions over school closures, working from home arrangements, protocols for teachers concerned about possible COVID-19 exposure, provision for children of key workers and vulnerable children, support for pupils in relation to SQA assessment, arrangements for payment of supply teachers, and other key issues.

The EIS, locally and nationally, is continuing to do all it can to support teachers during this difficult period, and will continue to place updated advice onto the EIS website.