School reopening boycott: Left-wing teaching union threaten walkout over Covid safety | UK | News (Reports)

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The Education Solidarity Network (ESN), a section of the wider National Education Union, has outlined a set of requirements for the Government to meet ahead of the re-opening of schools in less than a fortnight. All students in England are set to return to the classroom in September following a six month absence due to the pandemic.

The group of campaigners want to ensure the Government provides free PPE, accommodates for smaller classes and weekly coronavirus tests for teachers.

The ESN also want parents to be given greater powers to remove their children from school without the threat of fines if they have any safety concerns.

With a rise in local lockdowns across the UK, the group also say schools should close if coronavirus infection rates rise to 50 per 100,000 people.

James Kerr, a senior figure in the Education Solidarity Network, told The Times: “We have already lost colleagues to the virus and will lose more if there is not action.

“It’s not the Victorian era anymore. Every worker should be able to go to work in the knowledge that they will return alive and well.”

On Friday, demonstrators took part in a “day of action” across the UK including in Bristol, Worcester and Leicester.

The Government has already outlined plans to help ensure schools are COVID-secure by introducing one-way systems, extra cleaning and staggered timetables for children starting and finishing their school day.

Secondary school children aged between 11 and 16 will also be put into year group “bubbles”.

Conservative Party co-chairman Amanda Milling, has lashed out of the demands of the group and warned they are putting the future of children at risk.

The MP for Cannock Chase, has called on Sir Keir Starmer, who has backed the return of schools, to take a more prominent lead and tackle the unions.

She said: “This hard-left action takes a wrecking ball to our children’s futures.

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The National Education Union has distanced itself from the demands of the group but has outlined the need for a “robust track, trace and test programme”.

A union spokesman said: “We have to prepare for a range of possible scenarios – including pupils and teachers having to isolate.

“We are pressing the Government on the need to have a robust track, trace and test programme in place and a Plan B in the case of local lockdowns or a second spike.”

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