Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1102/31378

From The Socialist newspaper, 23 September 2020

Dispatches from the front - chaotic schools are not safe!

  (Click to enlarge)

"Already down from seven year groups to four"

Two weeks in and we are already down from seven year groups to four because of whole year groups having to isolate after confirmed cases. Three teaching staff are now confirmed as Covid positive as well.

We are having to think on our feet in terms of distance learning because the work we set for individually isolating pupils must be different to what we set for whole year groups who are isolating. Both of these must be different to what we leave as cover work for isolating teachers.

One of my department members was in tears before 9am recently because this is all so unmanageable and overwhelming, and because being in the school environment is frightening and unpredictable.

What's worse is that engagement with distance learning is an issue for poorer families who don't have internet access or the necessary IT equipment. If routine testing was in place, we could open more safely and ensure all pupils could access learning.

An English teacher and National Education Union (NEU) rep

"I recently taught 120 children over the span of three days"

I am a teacher in an East London primary school. The school is described as larger than average, with a high population of students from low-income households. Our borough has been particularly devastated by the effects of Covid, with a high rate of infection and death.

Although we have been repeatedly told the opposite by the media and government, it is clear that schools are unsafe places and become more unsafe with every passing week. Amid the uncertainty, it is a convenience to believe younger children are not vectors for the virus. The reality is much less clear.

Our school management takes the virus seriously, which is a small mercy. We are lucky enough that the use of face masks or visors is tolerated. We all know of local schools that have banned the use of PPE. The government has repeatedly told us that face masks are 'unnecessary' for adults working in primary schools with little-to-no solid evidence to back this claim.

Cleanliness in the school is a top priority. The flow of people (children and adults alike) is carefully managed. Nevertheless, this all feels like a fruitless endeavour when you enter a small, cramped, unventilated classroom with thirty pupils and sometimes a handful of adults. You stand at the front of the room and ask the children not to approach you. This, of course, doesn't work.

I recently taught 120 children over the span of three days. A colleague leant me some anti-bacterial wipes so that, in an attempt to mitigate disaster, I could at least wipe down some of the equipment between classes.

Throughout the week I attended to first aid issues, I handed out individual resources, I marked books, I corrected pencil grips, I did up shoelaces, I held the hand of a child who had lost a family member. All of this made social distancing impossible.

Teaching younger year groups amplifies this issue. We have all seen the misleading images on the news of big airy classrooms with just a handful of children present. This is not reality.

Teachers are desperate to teach. They have not been provided with a safe space to do so and now they teach in unsafe conditions. Vulnerable staff, pregnant staff, completely unprotected staff, all teach in crowded, poorly ventilated rooms for hours at a time. The lack of tests and the increased waiting time for test results only compounds the danger. Already, we have lost a local teacher. It seems inevitable there will be more deaths as the months go on.

A primary teacher and NEU rep

"Children are so close they are touching"

Children are taught in classes of 33 in small rooms. They are so close that their arms are touching. In many rooms the windows do not open. No masks are worn in class. Masks are supposed to be worn in corridors but this does not always happen. In between lessons corridors, which are really only designed for one person to walk down at a time, have three rows of children walking in either direction or lining up outside classrooms.

A history teacher and NEU rep

"The school does not appear to be cautious at all"

We had a girl in class this week, came in clearly unwell and complaining of a sore throat.

Her temperature was taken, with a reading of 38C, higher than the Covid symptom range. It was taken again in 30 minutes - temperature was again 38C. Told to take again at break. Temperature still at 38C. School said they would phone parents - thought that perseverance had paid off... nope, Mam was asked to bring in Calpol.

When this was challenged the reply was that she was only showing one symptom. She has remained in class all week.

Another child in class sent home to be observed following chest pains when breathing. Back in the next day.

Had a child off for three days with a 'cold' - no test asked for. A number of children off throughout the week with 'colds', and while it may be the case that that is all they have, the school does not appear to be cautious at all.

We have a staff meeting soon with 20 staff all in the same room (hall). While social distancing may be feasible, it still doesn't feel safe.

Risk assessments mean nothing if they are not followed. It is becoming increasingly clear that attendance figures are of more importance than the health and wellbeing of pupils, staff, and their families for a number of schools.

A primary teacher and NEU rep

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 23 September 2020:


Coronavirus news

Tory Covid chaos

North East lockdown: simmering anger at Tory incompetence

Testing shambles: unions must fight back

Johnson's schools social-distancing lie


Schools

Dispatches from the front - chaotic schools are not safe!


Workplace news

A day in the life of a salon worker

Workplace news in brief


News

'FinCEN Files' expose rampant financial corruption: nationalise the banks!

Extend eviction ban! Cap rents! Build council homes!

News in brief


Universities

Covid and the campuses


Why I joined

Why we joined the Socialist Party


Campaigns

Fund NHS and pay rise now

Coventry: Socialist Students is back

Liverpool Council must save care homes

Sussex: Hands off Peacehaven schools

Fighting fund: One week to raise 3,444

The Socialist: More than a newspaper


International news

Thailand: Youth rising against hated junta


Readers' opinion

TV: The English Game - how the working class made football the people's game

The Socialist Inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 23 September 2020   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Schools:

triangleHorrific murder in Paris: fight intolerance and racism!

triangleAction on Covid transmission in schools now

triangleNottingham Covid surge caused by Tory mismanagement

triangleNEU Special Conference: A fight for safety in schools is urgently needed

triangleNational Education Union must launch action now

Children:

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleTories' school meals outrage

triangleDon't let Tories starve our kids

triangleUnder the microscope

School:

triangleTory 'Starve a Kid to Save a Quid' scheme

triangleEven more delay in stopping school transmission?

triangleAs school cases soar - is contact tracing 'near breaking point'?

NEU:

triangleFight the schools Covid crisis

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

30/10/20

Council

Sheffield: Tree-cutting council must admit it was wrong

30/10/20

Labour

Starmer's 'Militant moment' - labour movement fightback needed

28/10/20

Socialist Students

We won't pay with our futures

28/10/20

CWU

Royal Mail: No more behind closed doors talks

28/10/20

Prison

One rule for them, and another for us

28/10/20

Students

Evicted students can fight back and win

28/10/20

Union

Workplace news in brief

28/10/20

Nigeria

Solidarity with the movement in Nigeria

28/10/20

Students

Birmingham: 'Refund our fees' protests

28/10/20

Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest Save Our Square:

28/10/20

Bristol

Bristol jobs protest: We want 100% pay

28/10/20

Unison

Why I am backing Hugo Pierre for Unison general secretary

27/10/20

Greater Manchester

Working-class based campaign needed

21/10/20

NHS

Teignmouth hospital closure threat ... again!

21/10/20

Spanish revolution

Books that inspired me: For Whom the Bell Tolls

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


October 2020

September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999