Teachers in Wakefield 'anxious' ahead of return to classroom - despite new guidance on facemasks and testing in schools

Teachers in Wakefield are "anxious" about the return to the classroom, a spokesperson has said, despite new government guidance to limit the spread of Covid-19 in schools.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 7:00 am

Under new plans announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month, school pupils of all ages will be expected to return to the classroom from Monday.

New rules, including twice-weekly testing for staff, secondary school pupils and their household members, and guidance encouraging the use of facemasks when indoors, will be in place to limit the spread of the virus.

But Sally Kincaid, Wakefield district secretary for the National Education Union, says teachers are still “really anxious” about returning to the classroom.

Teachers in Wakefield are "anxious" about the return to the classroom, a spokesperson has said, despite new government guidance to limit the spread of Covid-19 in schools. Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

She says many of the problems facing schools before lockdown - such as high local case rates and small classrooms in which it is not possible to social distance - are still causing concern among members.

She said: “People are really anxious. They want to get back to school, but they want to be safe.

“There’s a nervousness. Teachers feel totally let down by the government.

“In Wakefield our rate is still so high. In certain areas it’s gone up in the last week.

“If they’d staggered the return properly, we wouldn’t be in the situation we were in.

“I think getting the little ones in first, in primary schools. And then staggering the rest in.

“Even a rota system where pupils go in twice a week but are safe would have been better.”

And there are concerns that the new rules and guidance will put additional pressure on already overstretched staff, Sally said.

“Nothing’s really changed since the initial lockdown,” she said. “What’s going to happen if students don’t want to wear masks?

“We’re hoping that kids will understand that they need to test and wear a mask for the safety of their family members and communities.”

“The Prime Minister himself said in January that schools are a vector of transmission. We’re talking about 10 million staff and students going back to the classroom.

“We’re talking about a huge amount of testing. If you think about the size of some of our secondary schools it’s going to take a lot of staff to do that.

“If you’ve got to take the staff to do testing, there will be stuff they aren’t able to do things they do normally.”