Voice Community Scotland – the education and early years section of Community Union in Scotland – has given a cautious welcome to the First Minister’s announcement on the next phase of reopening education and childcare from 15 March 2021.
Senior Professional Officer (Scotland) Dougie Atkinson said:
“We are pleased that the prevalence of the virus has reduced to levels which allow a cautious return to the classroom for all primary children on Scotland from 15 March.
“However, we urge the Scottish Government and local authority employers to monitor closely the impact of that return in primary schools before proceeding with a return for all secondary pupils after Easter.
“The safety of staff working in schools cannot be compromised in an attempt to reopen schools prematurely. Suitable mitigations will be needed to ensure that is respected.
“There are still concerns over social distancing and the absence of effective mitigation measures in secondary schools. We therefore await sight of the promised guidance, which we will share with members.
“We were also deeply disappointed by the decision of the governments of the UK nations to follow the advice of the JVCI not to prioritise education and early years staff for vaccination.
“Education and early years staff, along with other key workers, frequently cannot practise social distancing at work and have to come into close or actual contact with children or other adults, and therefore are obviously at more risk than those in occupations that can work from home, regardless of age. We had written to the Deputy First Minister, calling for priority access to the vaccine.”