The EIS has made a direct plea to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, urging her to do more to make schools safe from the risk of COVID-19.
In an unusual step, the EIS has written directly to the First Minister pointing out clear inconsistencies in COVID safety policy outwith and within schools, and urging the Scottish Government to do more to protect pupils, staff and school communities from the risk of COVID infection.
In the letter, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan says, "Standing alongside you at Monday's daily briefing, (National Clinical Director) Jason Leitch stated that there were concerns around people meeting outside schools in large groups.
"He went on to say, 'This includes parents gathering at school gates; young people meeting friends without following the guidance on physical distances.' He concluded, 'To remind you, the maximum permitted is eight people from three households, including your own, indoors, and 15 people from five households outdoors.'
'Crucially, everyone 12 and over must physically distance from everyone outside their own household. People are running the risk of spreading the virus to each other, their families and their loved ones.' May I ask, then, why the Scottish Government thinks that it is acceptable that inside schools these rules don’t apply, where up to 33 pupils may be in a closed confined area, i.e. a classroom, with as many different households as there are people?"
The letter continues, "We need the Scottish Government to fund the hiring of the 3,500 teachers identified by the GTCS as willing to aid Education recovery, so that we can reduce class sizes and make possible physical distancing.
"We also need stronger advice on face coverings, where physical distancing is not possible. You cannot visit a museum without one but again schools are different?"
Mr Flanagan adds, “EIS members supported the decision to reopen schools as we understand the importance of Education to our young people – that does not mean the very real concerns of teachers about school safety should be set aside. I urge you and your Government to do more."