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Unions warn of schools ‘chaos’ ahead of Covid rules being scrapped

Unison, Unite and the GMB said schools could be left in an impossible situation.

21 February 2022

Education unions are warning of chaos in schools unless the Government rows back from the “reckless” decision to scrap all remaining Covid safety rules in England.

Unison, Unite and the GMB, which represent school support staff, are urging the Prime Minister to keep in place free testing and the requirement to self-isolate.

The three unions warned that the failure to provide clear, detailed guidance risks a “super spreader free-for-all” in schools and other workplaces.

If remaining safety rules are axed, schools will be left in an “impossible situation”, the unions added.

Parents will be unsure about whether to send their children into school, transmission rates could soar and new, more potent variants could emerge, they warned.

Unison’s head of education Mike Short said: “Protection and safety are what’s needed, but there’s only confusion on offer from the Government. Parents and staff are desperate for a return to normality – but not at any cost.

“The Prime Minister appears to care more about keeping in with his backbenchers than he does about the health of the nation.

“Rather than throw caution to the wind and jeopardise the education of children who’ve lost so much, it’s time to show leadership, put aside self-interest and err on the side of caution.”

Unite national officer Jim Kennedy said: “Once again the Prime Minister is disregarding working people’s and the public’s health – this time school staff, children and their families – through reckless measures meant only to please his backbenchers.”

GMB national officer Avril Chambers said: “You have to question the motive behind this reckless decision.

“We suspect it’s yet another decision taken by this Prime Minister out of self-interest rather than for the good of the country.

“Support staff have kept our schools open throughout the pandemic. They deserve to stay safe and our children deserve not to have their education interrupted any more than it already has been.

“The Prime Minister needs to act responsibly. He must leave free tests and isolation requirements in place until there is scientific evidence that they no longer serve a purpose.”

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