Statement on new education COVID measures in England

Commenting of the Government’s announcement on face coverings and air cleaning units, Helen Osgood, National Officer for Community Union’s Voice Community education and early years section, said:

“We welcome the announcement on air cleaning units for education and early years, but fear this measure is too little too late.

“We are concerned that the supply of units will not meet demand for them and the hoops that settings must go through to meet eligibility criteria are a hindrance.  There have been concerns about ventilation since the early days of the pandemic, and these units could have been introduced months ago.

“The announcement about student face coverings was also very last minute and could have been made when other guidance was issued in early December, or before Christmas, to allow schools and colleges to prepare, given that the number of cases has been rising rapidly for weeks.

“We have always been of the view that education settings should be free to take the necessary measures in order to keep their staff and pupils safe.  We have promoted risk assessments consistently as a way of testing the measures in place and encourage the wearing of face coverings both inside and outside the classroom where this is necessary.

“The Education Secretary’s reassurance about the supply of test kits is also welcome.

“We continue to raise concerns about assessment and accountability, including Ofsted and the January mock exams, and call on the Government to give further guidance on contingency measures if there is widespread disruption.”

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