Union’s ‘five tests’ should be met before schools and colleges re-open

By Carole Dennett May 4, 2020

The Government has set out five tests which need to be met before relaxing the lockdown. The National Education Union (NEU) has outlined its own five tests which have been welcomed by Peter Shreeve, Assistant District Secretary of the National Education Union (pictured above).

The union says the Government should ensure their five tests will be met by reliable evidence, peer-reviewed science and transparent decision making before re-opening education establishments. They are:

1: Much lower numbers of Covid-19 cases – The new case count must be much lower than it is now, with a sustained downward trend, with confidence that new cases are known and counted promptly. And the Government must have extensive arrangements for testing and contact tracing to keep it that way.

2: A national plan for social distancing – The Government must have a national plan including parameters for both appropriate physical distancing and levels of social mixing in schools, as well as for appropriate PPE, which will be locally negotiated at school-by-school and local authority level.

3: Testing, testing, testing! – Comprehensive access to regular testing for children and staff to ensure our schools and colleges don’t become hot spots for Covid-19.

4: Whole school strategy – Protocols to be put in place to test a whole school or college when a case occurs and for isolation to be strictly followed.

5: Protection for the vulnerable – Vulnerable staff, and staff who live with vulnerable people, must work from home, fulfilling their professional duties to the extent that is possible. Plans must specifically address the protection of vulnerable parents, grandparents and carers.

Commenting on the launch of the five tests, Mr Shreeve said: “We believe that these tests must be capable of being passed in order to create the necessary confidence amongst parents and staff.

“Support staff, teachers and parents have responded with the utmost dedication and professionalism to the Covid-19 crisis. They need to be certain that public health is the mainstay essential priority in all considerations concerning how we move forward. If confidence and clarity are lacking, there is a risk of chaos and greater spread of the virus.

“Let’s be in no doubt, safety first, backed by robust, reliable scientific evidence, peer-reviewed science and transparent decision making, before schools reopen. A National Education Union’s petition to that effect has over 222,000 signatures. The strength of support is a clear indication that parents as well as school staff do not want the Government to rush into decisions that could cost lives.”