Do teachers need PPE at schools? Government advice slammed by union leader

Government advice suggesting that teachers do not need personal protective equipment when working in schools during the coronavirus outbreak is unhelpful, a union leader has warned.

By Claire Lewis
Sunday, 12th April 2020, 7:36 am

School staff looking after the children of critical workers and vulnerable pupils say they do not have enough soap and hot water to wash their hands, according to teachers' union NASUWT.

Patrick Roach, the new general secretary of NASUWT, said a number of teachers are calling for access to PPE and Covid-19 testing as they are concerned about the health of their families.

Concerns have been raised about a lack of protective equipment for teachers in schools during the coronavirus outbreak.

But government guidance, updated earlier this week, has said that staff in schools, colleges and nurseries ‘do not require’ PPE.

Read More

Read More
Fines will be issued for non-essential trips to Sheffield's waste recycling cent...

They must instead focus on social distancing measures and handwashing to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Dr Roach said: “Our concern as a union is that in the midst of a crisis in supply and demand, guidance is being published which asserts that teachers in any setting do not require access to PPE.

“The reality of the matter is that practising stringent social distancing in the context of working with young children, and working with children with moderate or profound learning difficulties, is going to be, to say the least, very challenging for a teacher.”

A survey of 950 NASUWT members found that 32 per cent said there was not adequate provision of soap and hot water for handwashing in their workplace.

Dr Roach is urging the government not to ‘rush’ to re-open schools until teachers have been properly consulted on the process as he warned that learning could be ‘compromised’.

He said added that asking students to return to school during the summer break, which runs from mid July to late August, to start the academic year early could lead to pupil burn-out.

He said: “We wouldn't want to see children becoming casualties of this Covid-19 situation.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Teachers and school staff are an essential part of our fight against coronavirus. We will continue to work with the sector to ensure they receive the support they need over the challenging weeks and months ahead.”