Commenting in an article in The Independent, “‘Very high’ levels of COVID staff absences could send learning online in new year, heads warn”, Voice Community National Officer Helen Osgood said:
“As with infections from the Delta variant, the picture with Omicron is likely to vary across the country, with some areas more affected by staff and pupil absences than others.”
“However, if schools don’t have enough staff available and can’t access sufficient supply staff, they may have to close for periods of time, even if they want to remain open.”
She also commented:
“Since the end of the Spring 2021 lockdown, schools have been required to have contingency plans to provide learning if they need to close again. We know that many schools are preparing to switch to online learning if necessary next term.
“We’re incredibly proud of the education workforce – including early years, teachers, heads and support staff – who have endeavoured, while at breaking point, to make sure that learning – both in the classroom and online – has been able to continue whenever there have been outbreaks and for those self-isolating.
“We are aware of situations where cover supervisors are bearing the additional pressure of staff being in short supply by being asked to take classes themselves, or headteachers are delivering lessons to two or three year groups in the school hall.
“This is an increasingly difficult situation for schools and educators.
“Schools are stepping up to the challenge that the latest variant of COVID is bringing to them. They are finding creative ways to ensure that the show must go on, such as holding their nativity plays outside.
“The Government needs to step up to the challenge too and ensure that staff in schools have the support they need to help them through this difficult period, and that they may face in the new year if the Omicron variant continues on its current trajectory.
“The public is stepping up to the challenge by going for their boosters in droves.
“Schools and those who work in them need the support of the public to ensure that everybody does their bit – getting their booster or earlier vaccinations, wearing masks, following mandated instructions, social distancing – whatever is required, so their efforts to keep schools open where possible will not be in vain.”
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