EIS Campaign Tells First Minister that School Buildings Cannot Remain open at all Costs

The EIS has written to the First Minister as it launches a new social media campaign with the hashtag #NotAtAllCosts to highlight teachers’ deep concern about school buildings remaining physically open even in areas of Scotland with high levels of COVID-19 infection.

To coincide with the launch of the social media campaign, the EIS has published the first of a series of briefing papers which highlight the concerns expressed by teachers on a variety of issues related to COVID and schools. The first briefings (copies attached), focused on comments from teachers on teaching in Level 4 areas and on pupil behaviour during the pandemic, have been published today with further themed briefings to follow over the next week.

Teachers across Scotland are being asked to support the campaign by sharing their own experiences of working in schools during the pandemic, using the hashtag #NotAtAllCosts. The EIS has also produced a series of social media graphics to allow teachers, parents and families to show their support for the aims of the campaign.

In the letter to the First Minister, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan says, “You will be aware EIS members have been clear in supporting the priority of keeping schools open, despite their very real concerns about safety, but not at all costs, First Minister.”

Referring to the briefings which include first-hand testimony from teachers, Mr Flanagan said, “As you will read, teachers are working in crowded classrooms where social distancing is not possible, often with inadequate cleaning supplies and protections."

"Schools are not Covid free environments – look at the evidence - and current mitigations are not keeping staff or pupils safe enough. Mounting workload and the stress of working under such conditions is having a significant impact on the mental health and resilience of our education workforce."

Mr Flanagan added, "I would ask that you read the comments from the classroom, and that moving forward your Government does more to acknowledge, and address, the real fear and anxieties which exist in schools, than has been the case to date, especially when we have areas operating at Level 4."

Yesterday, the EIS also wrote to all Directors of Education and the Deputy First Minister, calling for an urgent rethink on their refusal to move to remote learning around the Christmas holiday period.

The letters highlight the health & safety implications of the decision and note that governments in other countries, including England, are increasingly taking the decision to close their school buildings early ahead of Christmas to protect students, staff and their families.