Wigan trade unionists write to headteachers asking for phased school return
Wigan Trades Council also wanted assurances parents will not be penalised if they continue to keep their children at home over Covid-19 safety fears.
The trade unionists wrote a letter suggesting education leaders act cautiously when bringing pupils back into the classroom.
The letter questions the authorities’ position on Covid safety in schools ahead of Monday’s return to classes and supports parents who do not want their children to go back yet.
It urges headteachers to consider bringing classes in on a phased basis and to refrain from bringing action against residents still wishing to keep their sons and daughters learning from home.
The letter said: “Both the Government and our local council argued that the consequences of not re-opening schools on pupil’s health and educational well-being outweighed the risks involved. We disagree.
“We have been meeting with parents concerned about their own children’s welfare. Many are afraid to send their children back into school at this time, a fear that is well-founded.
“Returning children to the classroom under threat of fines and other penalties for parents is a wholly inadequate response to the crisis, devoid of any human feeling and care for those in our community who have genuine concerns for their families’ welfare.
“We are therefore asking that you use your professional independence and initiative to allay parental fears by considering a staggered return to schooling, and informing parents that you will use your legally empowered discretion not to penalise parents who are still frightened for the safety of their children.”
The letter said the Government’s Sage group of advisors had called for a phased return to school and expressed fears about the death toll that could occur when pupils return.
The trades council called the return to school policy adopted by ministers “a reckless lottery”.
It also urged headteachers to look at online resources about Long Covid in children.
The trade unionists said they want to ensure young people receive the best education possible but are still concerned about the potential implications of a full return to class..
The letter said: “We know that even as schools are closed staff are working harder than ever to ensure pupils and students are not left behind, and we also are aware of the undue pressure and accusations aimed at staff who want schools to be safe and are cautious about what the government is doing.
“We want schooling to resume. But not at the expense of peoples’ lives, nor at the expense of ignoring alternative voices that offer other, reasonable strategies to keep people safe and secure.”
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