The Welsh Government Education Minister has maintained the importance of being guided by science when considering how schools should open, and it is essential this remains a priority for the next stage of the response to Covid-19, says Wales’ biggest public sector trade union.
Rosie Lewis, UNISON Wales school support staff lead, said:
“Teaching assistants, school administrators, cooks, cleaners, and caretakers are understandably anxious about what the Education Minister’s announcement will mean in practice.
“Many school support staff have continued to work during this stressful period, and are now facing further change as well as being expected to work an additional week at the end of a term when they are already exhausted.
“The health, safety and wellbeing of pupils and schools workers are paramount as we navigate the proposed check in, catch and prepare phase.
“At an all-Wales level, the test and trace programme must be functioning properly and there will need to be the ability to respond locally where outbreaks occur.
“Thorough guidance must be provided as soon as possible to allow schools to put plans in place.
“At a local level, it is more important than ever that trade unions are involved in all discussions about schools reopening.
“The reopening of schools is not as simple as making sure classrooms are safe.
“The responsibility on facility management, cleaning staff, school catering, and administrative staff will undoubtedly be huge. It is critical that there are proper risk assessments agreed with unions at a local level.
“We would urge all schools not to rush to make decisions. We want to get this right – that will take time and will need to be regularly reviewed as the situation develops further. Unions are integral to that process.”