Teaching union chief attacks government handling of school reopening

4 September 2021, 12:39

Dr Mary Bousted claims Government have been 'asleep at the wheel' as school reopen
Dr Mary Bousted claims Government have been 'asleep at the wheel' as school reopen. Picture: Alamy

By Seán Hickey

A rise in Covid cases and school closures is imminent due to a lack of preparation for the new school term, according to a teaching union boss.

Dr Mary Bousted is the Joint General-Secretary of the National Education Union and was speaking to Matt Frei amid a whirlwind of uncertainty around the new school year.

"We have to do as much as we can to keep Covid levels as low as possible in schools" Dr Bousted told LBC, suggesting that this is not the case as the new school year looms.

Read more: Government set to defy JCVI advice and vaccinate healthy children 'from next week'

Matt Frei wondered if she was "at all worried that we might face yet another season of school closures if this gets out of hand?"

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"We all want school closures to be the last thing that happens" she insisted.

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"If we don’t take safety seriously we will see a big rise in cases amongst school age people and a lot of them will miss school."

The teaching union chief claimed that "nearly 400,000" students could be out of the classroom this term due to a lack of measures in place to curtail the spread of Covid-19.

Read more: Education Secretary: We will 'move heaven and earth' to avoid closing schools again

Dr Bousted noted that masks and ventilation are the two most effective ways to stop the spread of Covid-19 in classrooms, but not enough has been done to put these measures in place.

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"I can’t understand why we’ve abandoned mask wearing in secondary schools.

Read more: Schools reopening could see 'significant surge' in Covid cases - expert

"I can’t understand why CO2 monitors, which will only diagnose the problem, it won’t provide ventilation in classrooms, I can’t understand why they’re still not ordered," she added.

"The government had a whole summer to prepare for this and yet again appear to be asleep at the wheel."