Teacher and education worker concerns about the reopening of schools

As a campaign we have always stood shoulder to shoulder with the professionals who are also being sent back into unsafe schools, and have offered teachers and education workers are a public platform to voice their issues and concerns anonymously, by completing this form.

Here are some of their responses:

I am clinically extremely vulnerable and have been shielding since March. I am so concerned about the safety of going back to work in the Early Years. I know that children are less likely to become ill , but they do have a high viral load which they can shed and spread this to others. I do not believe it is safe to return and we have not had enough guidance to support our working. Or to make the environment safe. I do not believe that head teachers, managers or leaders should be having the safety aspect placed highly upon them, we are not medically trained and do not have that experience to carryout risk assessments for vulnerable staff. The school and setting classrooms are not going to be inviting to our children and I am concerned they will miss out on that much more than being in a class room.

I’ve made my will expecting to use it. I work in an area where I know the teenagers have been socialising from the start and will spend 5 hours a day with 20 biological adults in a small room and no masks.

I am a single parent with three secondary school aged children. I am also a teacher in a secondary school. Our ‘protective bubble’ will involve bringing 1250 possible transmission vectors into our home. The only protective measures are additional cleaning and more frequent handwashing – this does nothing to address aerosol transmission. I have written my will. I have had to tell my two older children that I have done this and where my will, and other necessary financial information like my pension, is filed in the house. My two older children are 13 and 15. They cried when I told them. They know that, if I contract this virus, they are very likely to be the source of transmission. If I die, how will this impact on their mental health. The Government should have prioritised a return to education on a blended learning model, that would have allowed for social distancing. Masks should be compulsory in secondary schools. Instead they have been focused on a school based return to education because this allows all parents to return to work full time. I am sick with worry but financially have no choice. I will never vote Tory.

Has led to a mental breakdown. Now off sick awaiting counselling and off sick until October 1st. Previous history of severe pneumonia and chest infections plus I am an older teacher. Contemplated taking my own life through the immense stress this has led to – we just want to feel safe and not risk dying by being made to do our jobs in a very very risky way.

I’m a SEN TA in a secondary school in a deprived area. I’m a vulnerable asthmatic, my 11 year old son has kidney condition also vulnerable. All info from work is that it is business as usual apart from bubbles, no guidance for vulnerable staff, no plan. I genuinely feel I will not survive the return to school.

They are putting us at risk. My school will have no social distancing at all in Sept and my desk is less than 1 meter away from pupils. I have been told to ‘move my chair away ‘ which is laughable.

It has generated huge amounts of stress and fear, given the mixed messages and minimal levels of information provided. The continuous, deliberate and unfair demonisation of education staff by both the Government and the media has only lead to even greater stress levels in the face of an already difficult job. The fact that the Government has decreed that face masks and coverings should be worn in shops and on public transport due to the risk of COVID-19 but yet, expects education staff to enter school premises with no masks/PPE, minimal/no social distancing with classes of 30+ children and in cramped ,poorly ventilated classrooms and school buildings, shows a complete lack of respect for education professionals and only heightens the levels of worry at the prospect of catching COVID-19 and the potential long term effects this might have!

My husband is extremely vulnerable and I am expected back in school full time from September even though as the Finance Assistant I have been and can continue to work from home.

We have a child with a health condition and have shielded for 5 months only to now just go back to work like nothing has happened. It is frightening. No masks? Reduced class sizes?

I’ve had to resign my position as I don’t feel the government guidelines are safe. I will be home educating my own children rather than risk their lives and mine or my husband’s lives. My husband is vulnerable with COPD and I am vulnerable due to a high BMI. Neither of us were told to shield, but we have essentially shielded ourselves anyway. The anxiety of a “plan” that is basically no plan at all, just decorated with words like “bubbles” to put our minds at ease, has been unbearable at times. I loved my job in an education setting and was on my way to progressing higher into the school hierarchy. I am very saddened to have been forced into this position by the abysmal plans set forth by the government.

I’m clinically extremely vulnerable and after shielding for 5 months can now return to teach safely in a school???

My son has cancer and is undergoing chemo. He has a very low immune system. I am being forced to either lose our home, or risk losing my son and my own life as well. I will happily teach via online platforms and work night and day for my pupils. I am scared stiff of killing my son by being forced back into an unsafe work place, without even PPE.

Have been signed off since march due to anxiety brought about by concerns about clinically vulnerable member of household. Have to return to work, but feel terrible at the thought of it.

If universities and colleges can manage blended learning to reduce class sizes, why can’t schools.

Ideally, I don’t think schools should reopen until the new year.

Allowances should continue to be made for staff or parents/families with others in household who are more at risk. Certainly anyone with health concerns shouldn’t be forced back.

I intend to go back, to try, but I’m not sure I can cope with the stress. I may have to leave a job I love

My anxiety has gone through the roof, I’m scared for myself, my kids, and others, not enough is being done to protect us or the students. I’m seriously Considering resigning & deregistering children. We are in a lock down area and it’s being treated like nothing different needs to happen despite being in a higher community transmission area?

I have been shielding since March, due to being at increased risk. I have 2 ASD sons who greatly depend on me. In September, I am meant to go into a bubble of over a hundred, with 30 children facing me for 5 hours a day, in an enclosed space, with no social distancing or PPE for pupils. The virus is airborne and children can infect others. Schools were the biggest source of outbreaks before they broke up in the summer, despite increased safety precautions and few year groups back in. I am terrified. I don’t want to needlessly die.

I am asthmatic and having to fight to be allowed to use a mask. This is unacceptable and very stressful.

…It is widely accepted now that children can transmit this virus as much as adults, and as such it is recognised by Independent SAGE that, in the context of local infection numbers, schools could provide a vehicle for a super-spreading event. If you had asked any teacher they could have told you this already, but the profession has been ignored. The government’s actions appear to be politically motivated, they do not appear to be motivated by the best interests of children or their education and that can be seen in the nature of the guidance given to schools, with a false mantra, pretending that they believe education matters. They have the audacity to attack the teaching profession saying it is up to us to make this work, saying we are not being creative enough in our approach. However, this accusation is one that should be levelled directly at the government. The profession has repeatedly point out why their guidance is not fit for purpose, either educationally nor in terms of infection control, and given workable sustainable solutions to the government, yes those solutions require some CREATIVE thinking to implement them, but they would WORK! Unfortunately the government doesn’t appear to either have the will or creative capacity to try something different…

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