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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 October 2020

Action on Covid transmission in schools now

  (Click to enlarge)

Martin Powell-Davies, Lancashire National Education Union (personal capacity)

At last, some opposition politicians are starting to speak out clearly about the woeful failure of the Tory government to control the spread of the virus. But words alone can be ignored.

So now it's time for the National Education Union (NEU) to back up words with action and call strike ballots in the worst-affected areas.

The publicity around the union's call for a two-week 'circuit-breaker' over half-term, including schools, has already helped to break the silence over how our packed classrooms are operating, as one of the key vectors driving the 'Covid second wave' of rising infections and deaths.

Public Health England's own data now confirms that test positivity rates are rising sharply, and most of all among teenagers and young adults. Some of the highest incidences of Covid outbreaks are being recorded in schools. These are recorded across all sectors - nursery, primary, special and secondary.

The virus is being carried into schools, transmitted between pupils and staff, then carried back out into communities again. That's inevitable when schools are operating with full classes without any possibility of adequate social distancing, with 30 or more children and adults sharing the same, often poorly ventilated, classroom space. The risks are greatest in tier two and three areas with the highest infection rate, especially for staff at risk who are not being allowed to work at home.

Yet the government continues to ignore reality. Lancashire councillors reported that when they spoke up in negotiations about transmission in schools and workplaces being the real problem, they were told by government officials that these were 'off-limits'.

So Lancashire is now in tier three, without adequate financial support for workers affected, but also with school safety continuing to be ignored. For the sake of staff and for the safety of our communities too, it's high time to take the action needed to make sure that ministers cannot ignore us any longer.

That's why emergency NEU members' meetings have been called in the first tier three areas of Lancashire and Liverpool. Local officers agree that escalation to a higher tier must be met with an escalation in the union's strategy. With infection rates on the rise, we must not delay.

Socialist Party in Education is calling for:

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In The Socialist 21 October 2020:


Lockdown

Health before profit - Work or full pay

Wales 'firebreak' lockdown fails to protect workers

Liverpool lockdown: suspicion and anger

Newcastle lockdown: stress and breakdowns

Leicester lockdown: disillusionment and anger


Unison

Why the Socialist Party is backing Hugo Pierre for Unison general secretary


International

Nigeria protests: 'This movement needs to fight the whole rotten capitalist system'

Horrific murder in Paris: fight intolerance and racism!

South Africa: Mass day of action for permanent jobs and a living wage


News

Tories reduce winter homeless funding: reverse the cuts,use the empty homes!

World capitalism's terrified strategists abandon austerity - for now


Coronavirus

Test and Trace U-turn on stopping local case reporting

Oxbridge gets private Covid tests: pool resources to test us all!

Millennials disillusioned with 'democracy'

Under the microscope


Workplace

RMT: Programme to fight redundancies and cuts

Action on Covid transmission in schools now

FCC dismiss Unison activist Tony Smith

Optare workers strike over pay broken 'promise'

Solidarity with Deliveroo Couriers in York


Campaigns

NHS workers

Students: Give us our money back

Fight for your future at the online rally

Southampton: Coxford community condemns racist attack

Socialism 2020: Will you help our finance appeal?

Selling the Socialist: increase in NHS anger

Truth about Zane: Cover-up Tories crack

Kent: Chaotic privatised asylum process

Teignmouth hospital closure threat ... again!


Readers' opinion

Books that inspired me: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Beware the billionaires bearing gifts

Disabled students let down by "rotten education system"

The Socialist Inbox


 

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Related links:

Schools:

triangleJohnson's 'road map' for schools: Act together to protect safety

triangleHackney teaching assistants strike against cruel and unnecessary job cuts

triangleHackney schools workers to strike

triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: For a safe return to schools

Covid:

triangleGarment workers and Covid: Dying for less than minimum wage

triangleWhere's the road map to jobs and wages Boris?

triangleDerby Toyota plant Covid crisis

triangleOnline workers' rally: Taking fight to the bosses

Union:

trianglePresident of 'big four' Labour-affiliated trade union joins TUSC committee

triangleHow militant trade unionism defeated the 1971 Industrial Relations Act

triangleUsdaw elections - right makes gains but Broad Left builds

Lancashire:

triangleLancashire workers' strike shows the way to fight aerospace cuts and job losses

triangleLancashire Socialist Party: Israel-Palestine - what solution to the conflict?

NEU:

triangleWest London Socialist Party: The fight for women's health to be a trade union issue

Education:

triangleStrike back for free education

National Education Union:

triangleThe NEU's 'big announcement' - lessons need to be learned

School:

triangle"I'm here to fight for the future education of children in Hackney"

Martin Powell-Davies:

triangleMartin Powell-Davies for NEU DGS: "We need to use our collective strength"

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