With lockdown rules relaxing in the UK this month, some teachers are concerned that this will discourage students from following Covid safety rules. Teachers’ leaders have warned that a potential third wave of Coronavirus cases could threaten schools after Easter unless strict safety measures remain in place.
The NASUWT teachers’ union have suggested that the government shouldn’t “remove or water down the current guidance” when pupils return for summer term. With the success of vaccinations, the ease of lockdowns and the decline in Covid-19 cases, there may be the temptation to relax safety measures too soon. Instead, it is advised that secondary school pupils should still be required to wear face masks, when social distancing is unattainable, in order to prevent a third wave.
Furthermore, relaxing the guidelines within schools could also send the message to students and parents that the threat of Covid has passed when in reality caution still needs to be exercised. As Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT states: “We are not out of the woods yet and maintaining the highest levels of Covid security in our schools is critical as we move into the new term in order to protect the safety and health of teachers and learners”.
According to a recent union survey, many teachers are in support of the use of face masks within secondary schools. However, not everyone is in favour of the requirements. Last month, MPs heard that school leaders had received “threatening letters” from parents who did not want their children to wear face coverings.
Although education leaders do not want to see staff or students wearing face masks for longer than necessary, many feel that precaution is still imperative in order to ensure school safety. The government will continue to review guidelines before the summer term where final decisions will be made.