More than a third of teachers feel unsafe in Scottish secondary schools due to their lack of confidence in safety measures put in place, a leading teachers’ union has warned.
A survey of 2,058 teachers revealed 38% had “no confidence at all” they could keep safe in school, while just 7% said they were very confident following their return to school.
The Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, who conducted the survey, said the findings were a “major concern”.
We expect to contract Covid and potentially spread it amongst our communities and loved ones.”
The report highlighted a string of concerns relating to the lack of face coverings, physical distancing and cleaning procedures as just 12% of teachers said their school was “very prepared” to keep them safe.
Teachers “expect” to contract coronavirus
One teacher claimed they had been “thrown under the bus” by the Scottish Government.
They added: “More and more this week I have been hearing “when, not if”. Teachers now expect to get sick.
“We expect to contract Covid and potentially spread it amongst our communities and loved ones. How on earth are we expected, under these very real circumstances, to feel safe?”
Another said: “Teachers don’t feel safe because teachers are not safe. Teachers will only feel safe when class numbers are low enough to impose 2m distances between each pupil at all times, when appropriate ventilation systems are in use in every school… and when face coverings are worn by all pupils during classes.”
The lack of physical distancing in classrooms was “major worry” as 33% of teachers surveyed claimed precautions had not been put in place.
Meanwhile, cleaning procedures were “inconsistent” across Scotland as 53% of classrooms were being cleaned after each lesson, with 61% of teachers expected to clean their workplace and 79% of pupils expected to clean their desks.
Seamus Searson, SSTA general secretary, said: “It appears that schools are being exempt from all the normal Covid-19 safety arrangements, such as physical distancing, consistent and safe cleaning regimes, and restrictions on sharing equipment that take place in other public places.
“As one member remarked ‘teachers are just being thrown under the bus’. Either we are serious about keeping people safe or we are not.”
Another leading teaching union has claimed there is still a “considerable” amount of work to be done to ensure schools are safe from coronavirus.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), which surveyed almost 600 union reps in schools, found 30% of reps said physical distancing was not in place and 92% reported no reduction in class sizes to enable effective physical distancing.
General secretary Larry Flanagan said the results were “worrying”.
He said: “While local authorities have taken numerous steps to make schools safer, there is still much to be done to ensure that all schools are as COVID-safe as they can possibly be.
“It is clear from the results of our survey that class groups are still too large to facilitate effective physical distancing measures, potentially placing staff and pupils alike at greater risk of COVID infection.”
Mr Flanagan said it was of particular concern in Scottish secondary schools where older pupils are at greater risk of developing symptoms and spreading the virus.
He added: “Teachers and pupils have a right to work in a safe and secure environment, so all possible steps must be taken to ensure that our schools are Covid-secure.”
The Scottish Government has said there is very little evidence to suggest that coronavirus is transmitted in schools, according to scientific evidence.