UNISON North West has called for a change in Government guidance to allow all school support staff to wear face coverings if they wish to. The union is reacting to the news that the Government’s decision to allow secondary pupils to wear face coverings in school corridors in local lockdown areas of England.
The Government has made a partial U-Turn by mandating secondary school pupils in local lockdown areas to wear face coverings and giving head teachers at any school the “flexibility” to introduce masks in their schools. But the trade union for school support staff says that this change does not go far enough.
UNISON head of education Jon Richards said: “This is a welcome step forward but still leaves a confusing picture.
“The focus on pupils is understandable but the government has already admitted the biggest risk in schools is to staff.
“School staff who work closely with pupils, and move between classes and bubbles, have particular challenges.
“Schools should recognise these issues and allow those who want to wear coverings to do so.”
The North West region has the highest number of total cases (51,708) of any region in the country and many of the local authority areas currently under local restrictions are in the North West region.
UNISON North West schools organiser Keith Bradley said: “The Government’s change to guidance regarding secondary schools in lockdown areas is a small step in the right direction but it does not go far enough.
“The Government has passed the decision on to headteachers and in doing so has diverted their own responsibility for the safety of school staff, pupils and the wider community.
“Earlier this summer, the Government said that a world-beating track and trace system would be created in order to ensure schools could fully re-open in September. It is clear that this has not been delivered.
“The virus remains a real and present danger in our region. School staff, whether they work in colleges, primary or secondary schools must have the right to further protect themselves using a face covering if they want to.”
Earlier this month, the union wrote to secretary of state for education Gavin Williamson urging him to allow all school staff to be allowed to wear face coverings if they choose.