Primary school teachers told not to go back to work 48 hours before term starts

A leading union has told its members that it is unsafe to return to the classroom, 48 hours before children are set to start the new term.

It comes following a screeching u-turn by Gavin Williamson to close all primary schools in London.

The National Education Union has now called for all primary schools to move to remote learning in a bid to keep staff safe.

In a statement today, the NEU said: “Our union is calling on all primary schools to move to remote learning for the first two weeks of January except to vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

“We are asking members to be available to work from home and to support remote learning.

“This is a step we take with huge reluctance. But this Government is failing to protect children, their families and our communities.

“And it is failing in its duty of care to education staff who have worked tirelessly to look after children during this pandemic.”

Pressure is mounting on the Government to keep all schools closed following a surge in a mutated strain of coronavirus.

Most primary schools are due to reopen on Monday.

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The NEU is not the only union to pile on the pressure, with the National Association of Head Teachers also calling for a “brief period” of remote learning.

It comes as the number of new coronavirus infection rates in England surpassed 50,000 for a fourth day in a row on Friday.

And another 479 people died with coronavirus in UK hospitals on Saturday as the mutant strain rips through the country.

As it stands, secondary schools will be returning in a staggered fashion, starting with exam year pupils on January 11.

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Most primaries are set to start teaching in person again on January 4, aside from London and some surrounding areas which return on January 11.

The NEU said today that “the science” tells us that children spread it to others, and that the government must follow scientific advice.

“We cannot stand by and see our members, our pupils, their families and the communities we serve put in harm's way like this,” the union said.

“Our NHS heroes have been working flat out since March and are exhausted and fearful of how they will cope with the hugely increasing number of very sick patients.

“We are education professionals, and we all want schools to be open for all pupils. We know, to our very core, how important education is to children’s wellbeing and life chances.

“But we will not sit by and see the worsening of a health catastrophe in this way.”

Announcing the U-turn on Friday evening, Mr Williamson described moving further parts of the capital to remote education “really is a last resort and a temporary solution”.

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