School staff may stop turning up to work unless they are given better safety advice, headteachers warn

Some schools are struggling to get hold of hand sanitiser, and called on the Government to make sure supplies are available

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Schools closed at the end of last week to all but the most vulnerable children and those whose parents are defined as “key workers” 
Schools closed at the end of last week to all but the most vulnerable children and those whose parents are defined as “key workers” 

Staff may stop turning up to work unless schools are given better advice on how to operate safely, headteachers have warned.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, urged ministers to provide detailed advice on how schools should operate safely.

He said that with much of the country now in lock down, many teachers are “understandably anxious about the personal risk of simply going to work”.

It is “absolutely vital” that schools are briefed with medical evidence on safe levels of attendance, density and other practical information about how best to manage children’s social distancing, he added. 

“It would not be surprising to find, in the absence of clear government advice on keeping safe, that fewer colleagues are willing or able to work today than yesterday,” Mr Whiteman said.

“From masks or other PPE, to distancing children from each other, to sufficient supplies of soap and hand sanitiser, schools urgently need answers to their questions about effective safety measures.”

Schools closed at the end of last week to all but the most vulnerable children and those whose parents are defined as “key workers”.

Mr Whiteman said that some schools are struggling to get hold of hand sanitiser, and called on the Government to make sure supplies are available.

“It’s patchy – some schools are provided for very well, others are finding it difficult to get their hands on things,” he said.  

“There have been a lot of conversations about hand sanitiser in schools – if hand sanitiser is part of the solution then it has to be provided. At the moment sourcing that in some areas is difficult or schools.  

“We would look to Government to prioritise schools. Essentials such as hand sanitiser should be prioritised for places that need them most. Schools keeping are young children safe, and teachers are putting themselves at extended risk to do that.”  

A Government spokesperson said: “We are closely monitoring the situation and will continue to work with local authorities to ensure schools and colleges get the help and support they need over the challenging weeks and months ahead.”   

The Department for Education is drawing up fresh guidelines on how schools and teachers can adhere to social distancing measures.