Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1146/32980

From The Socialist newspaper, 8 September 2021

Union action needed to make schools Covid safe

photo City Journal/CC

photo City Journal/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Martin Powell-Davies, Candidate for NEU deputy general secretary and Socialist Party member

Staff, school students, and their families understandably want the new academic year to be a return to 'normality', without the stress and disruption of the last eighteen months. But the transmissibility of the Delta variant, and the failure of government to invest, means that won't be the case. Just as in September 2020, we are returning to the same poorly ventilated, closely packed classrooms operating non-stop throughout the day - prime conditions for spreading an airborne virus.

News from Scotland, where term started earlier, has confirmed that the reopening of schools after the summer break will inevitably drive up infection rates. In July, Independent SAGE linked a decline in Scottish infection rates to the earlier start to their school holidays. But now, young people are mixing in schools again, fuelling record case numbers. Tellingly, around a third of the new cases have been in the under-19s age group.

Vaccinations have helped ensure that hospitalisation and death rates are much lower than they would have otherwise been. But protection is not guaranteed. A proportion of our diverse population will still suffer serious illness, and more again from long Covid - especially those who have existing conditions that leave them at greater risk. Schools have a responsibility to keep our communities safe.

Leadership lacking

In July, the National Education Union (NEU) issued a Covid-19 update, assuring members and school leaders that new advice would be published before the start of the autumn term. Union reps were also advised to remind school management that risk assessments will need to be revised in time for the new academic year. But members had to wait until the end of August, only a few days before the start of term for the majority of schools and colleges, to read the union's published guidance.

The guidance states: "We are extremely concerned that the 'indicative' thresholds for numbers of infection set by DfE in its contingency framework are too high and risk leading to the further spread of the virus". The document's stated purpose is to "help union reps to understand the current Government and DfE guidance". But it does not explain the necessity to challenge government guidance where it is inadequate.

For example, it only asks secondary settings to "urgently consider the case" for continuing to require face coverings to be worn in classrooms, rather than make clear unions are insisting that is the case, in line with rules when schools returned in Scotland. Nor does it insist that students who live with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 be told to self-isolate, simply asking that the education setting is informed.

The union safety checklist has been issued together with three other trade unions representing education workers: GMB, Unison and Unite. It advises workplace reps to have regular meetings with management to carry out risk-assessments and regularly review safety. This is absolutely necessary. But if agreement isn't reached and workplaces remain unsafe, then what?

The collective strength of members across the school unions must be drawn upon to keep workers, students and communities safe. A glimpse of that potential strength was shown in January when school workers simultaneously used Section 44 of the Employment Act to refuse to attend their unsafe workplaces.

See also: Vote Martin Powell-Davies for DGS

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • We must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 8 September 2021:


NHS and social care

NHS and social care - make the rich pay, not the workers

Workers shouldn't pay for health and social care plans

End service cuts and care charges

Families demand rights for care home residents

Whipps Cross hospital workers reject the 3%


What we think

A pivotal moment for the trade union movement


Socialist Party news and campaigns

Socialist Party national council - members enthused by excellent in-person meeting

Why I joined the Socialist Party


Education

Union action needed to make schools Covid safe

Fighting NEU leadership needed to tackle school funding crisis

Schools funding crisis fails vulnerable children

University bosses push through pension cuts proposal


9/11 twenty years on

9/11 and the 'War on Terror' twenty years on


Workplace news

Bexley bin workers win big gains after six-week strike

Equity protest to save arts centre forces talks from Newham Council

DWP: Demand safe working and more jobs

DHL workers to strike against wage theft


Youth Fight for Jobs

Organising to defend our future: 9 October- Youth fight for jobs day of action

Building Youth Fight for Jobs in the South West


International news

Libya - ten years after Gaddafi's overthrow

US Supreme Court refuses to challenge Texas abortion ban

Keep fascists out of Portland: Build a mass movement to fight the right


Readers' opinion

The street I live on

Socialist change, not climate change

Vigil: A nuclear sub murder mystery


Obituary

Obituary: Roger Henshaw, comrade and class fighter


 

Home   |   The Socialist 8 September 2021   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Education:

triangleMartin Powell-Davies for National Education Union DGS

triangleSchools funding crisis fails vulnerable children

triangleUniversity of Leeds students bribed to stay away while staff are under attack

triangleFurther education set for industrial action over pay

triangleDerby academies closed by strikes against brutal cuts and changes

Covid:

triangleOn the frontline, and still fighting for the NHS

triangle'Pingdemic' exemptions

triangleNSSN TUC rally

trianglePreparing for struggle in post-Covid Britain

Schools:

triangleFighting NEU leadership needed to tackle school funding crisis

triangleExam results: grade gap widens

triangleBrighton Socialist Party: Material deprivation and the impact on schools

Union:

triangleCarmarthenshire Unison: 'Recognise our union!'

triangleOaks Park school: Redbridge Labour council backs strike-breaking bullies

School:

triangleOlympic 'success' masks cuts and inequality

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

15/9/21

The Socialist

We need a new political party for workers and youth

15/9/21

Universal Credit

Hands off the uplift

15/9/21

Workers

What's behind the worker shortages, and what can be done about it?

15/9/21

Health

Deaths of despair: Health crisis - capitalism in the dock

15/9/21

Climate change

Climate change, capitalism, and the struggle for socialism

15/9/21

NHS

Take the wealth off the super-rich to fund: NHS and social care, pay and benefit rises

15/9/21

NHS

Social care plans: A sticking plaster instead of surgery

15/9/21

Pensions

Unite young and old to defend the pensions triple lock

8/9/21

Education

Union action needed to make schools Covid safe

8/9/21

Trade union

A pivotal moment for the trade union movement

8/9/21

NHS

NHS and social care - make the rich pay, not the workers

8/9/21

Health

Workers shouldn't pay for health and social care plans

8/9/21

Cuts

End service cuts and care charges

8/9/21

Care Homes

Families demand rights for care home residents

8/9/21

NEU

Fighting NEU leadership needed to tackle school funding crisis

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


September 2021

August 2021

July 2021

June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999