Commenting on the statement by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson today (6 July 2021) about the lifting of COVID restrictions in education from 19 July, Deborah Lawson, Community Union Assistant General Secretary (Voice education and early years section), said:
“While we welcome the announcements and the end to speculation that all COVID restrictions are to be lifted, and the Secretary of State’s announcement for schools about the removal of bubbles and changes to self-isolation, we are disappointed that all this is being the announced in the last weeks of the summer term.
“We applaud the dedication of the education workforce throughout the last 16 months, since we know this self-isolation of whole bubbles has been frustrating for pupils, parents and staff, and we have called for it to be reviewed.
“Workplaces must be safe, and employers should remember that they are duty bound to provide a safe working environment.
“Voice Community is calling for evidence to show that these proposals for testing without the need for isolation will be effective at limiting the spread of COVID-19 and protect vulnerable pupils and staff.
“This is especially important in nurseries and primary schools, where pupil testing does not happen. And we want assurances that settings can implement control measures where the evidence suggests they are necessary and proportionate.
“We have yet to hear the evaluation of the daily testing pilot scheme that the Government were promoting as an alternative to self-isolation, and have hopes that this may provide some answers.
“We will closely examine the guidance and seek clarification where required to answer members’ questions, and trust that settings will ensure that they are safe for children and staff.”