The final results of our major survey confirm that the majority of teachers retain serious concerns about COVID-19 safety measures ahead of the return of pupils to schools from tomorrow.
A total of 29,867 teachers took part in the survey since it opened on Tuesday last week. The clear message from the results is that, while teachers support the decision to reopen schools, they remain unconvinced that sufficient measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of pupils, staff and the wider school community.
Key data from the final survey results includes:
A total of 29,867 teachers completed the survey from its launch on Tuesday 4 August to the morning of Monday 10 August – the largest survey return we have ever had – with 67% expressing support for the decision to reopen schools but a similar figure, 66%, expressing anxiety and a lack of confidence that sufficient mitigations would be in place.
Only 1 in 5 expressed confidence that schools are currently safe – indicating that much more needs to be done to reassure staff that schools are safe to work in.
53% expressed a lack of confidence that an established capacity to test, trace and isolate is in place to support a safe return, with only 28% of teachers being ‘confident or very confident’ of this.
72% of teachers indicated support for the testing for asymptomatic members of staff to help supress the spread of COVID.
41% expressed support for the mandatory wearing of face coverings by senior pupils in classrooms, while 22% said it should be encouraged.
65% indicated that enhanced cleaning regimes would make them feel safer in schools.
Commenting on the findings, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "These findings issue a stark warning to local authorities and the Scottish Government ahead of pupils returning to schools from tomorrow."
"Our survey findings confirm that, even as they return to schools across the country today, Scotland's teachers are extremely concerned about the risks associated with potential COVID-19 infection in schools. This worry will be particularly acute for the significant percentage of teachers identified as being in an 'at risk' category (16% of respondents), as well as those living with a family member who is in a high-risk group."
"There is significant concern amongst all teachers on issues such as the large number of pupils in each class, inability to maintain social distancing, and the need for the wearing of face coverings to ensure safety in some circumstances. These concerns grow more acute based on the age of pupils being taught, with secondary teachers expressing a particularly high level of concern over the potential risks of teaching young adults for long periods of time in an enclosed classroom environment."
Mr Flanagan continued, "The EIS has consistently said that we support the principle of re-opening schools so that teachers can, once again, offer their full support in a classroom setting for pupils. But we have also been consistent in the demand that schools can only re-open to pupils if this is managed in a way that can assure the safety of those pupils, staff and the wider community."
"The very clear message from these findings is that teachers are far from convinced that all necessary steps have been put in place by the Scottish Government and local authorities to make schools safe. This must be addressed now, with pupils returning this week."
Mr Flanagan concluded, "The EIS will be sharing the results of our survey with local authorities and the Scottish Government, and continuing talks at national and local level to seek resolutions to the concerns raised by our members. It is in everyone’s interests for solutions to be found, to ensure that our schools can operate safely as pupils return to the classroom this week."