UK govt minister not ruling out ‘penalizing’ English regions if teachers refuse to return to school as lockdown eases
As part of its gradual plan to ease the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, the UK government has proposed that primary schools (for pupils aged four-11) in England should start to reopen from June 1. This decision is based on “mixed evidence” from the Department of Education that children pass on Covid-19 at a lower rate than adults do, making them a low-risk group.
This proposal has been rejected by nine teaching trade unions – including UNISON and AEP – with some claiming it is “impossible” to reopen schools until there is a sufficient supply of PPE and widespread testing to ensure everyone’s safety.
After being pressed four times on the prospect of “penalizing” teachers and councils that defy government orders to re-start teaching next month, Oliver Dowden said that he really hopes “it doesn’t come to that” in an interview with Sky News.
Penalties could include docked wages and fines, although Dowden did not elaborate on this. He also promised to address the concerns of teachers regarding safety issues.
Part of the proposed safety measures include limiting class sizes to 15 pupils, which would not be allowed to interact with other groups in order to limit the transmission of the virus.
Some critics have pointed out that kids are notorious for being very proactive and not following rules, making the implementation of social distancing in primary schools an unrealistic aim.
Others have called out those teachers who refuse to return to work and said that people in this profession must “step up” and “show bravery.”
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