The First Minister’s confirmation that there will be a full pupil return post-Easter is of little surprise but the EIS continues to urge great caution.
The removal of physical distancing between pupils, particularly older pupils, represents a heightened risk that more pupils will be infected and the larger numbers in classrooms also creates more risk of airborne transmission, which is why face coverings remain important, including the provision of medical grade face masks for staff.
Whilst some Councils have made progress in relation to monitoring and improving ventilation, others have dragged their heels.
Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "The full return of pupils needs to be treated with great caution. It will undoubtedly lead to an increase in school Covid outbreaks which will require to be dealt with quickly, particularly for senior pupils who will be in the final stages of their qualification work."
Mr Flanagan continued, "If we had made more progress on the EIS demands of ventilation, vaccination, and facemasks, we would be in a stronger position. Improving such mitigations is still possible."
Mr Flanagan added, "Notwithstanding their concerns, however, teachers will be keen to engage positively with pupils to support their well-being and their progress in learning. There will be a particular challenge for senior pupils as lockdown has squeezed the time available for the alternative certification model."