Frustrations as English secondary schools reopening guidelines are changed

New secondary schools reopening guidelines have placed teachers in a difficult situation, just days before schools reopen. The guidelines call for schools to implement a rota system for schools that are in places where there is a communal spread of the virus or a lockdown.

The government has released new guidelines for secondary schools that require secondary schools in lockdown areas to implement a rota system, that will see students placed in groups that will determine their school attendance. The changes come just a few days from school reopening, where students are expected to return next week for the reopening.

Criticism of the new secondary schools reopening guidelines

The move has been heavily criticized by teachers’ unions in England, who indicated that they were surprised by the inclusion of the new secondary schools reopening guidelines just a week from students returning to schools. They also indicated that they were frustrated because, for months, they asked the government what they should do in cases where there is a communal spread of the virus, but their requests went unanswered.

The new guidelines are meant to reduce contact between teachers and students during the periods of lockdowns. They are also meant to give teachers and students more time at home so that their symptoms can become detectable and hence prevent the spread of the virus to other students.

The changes also so a provision that required all students from a bubble to quarantine for two weeks if a member was tested positive for the virus removed by the Department for Education. The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, however, indicated that these measures will only be used as a last resort and indicated that he hoped that schools would not have to come such a decision.

Challenges in implementing the system

The government’s late move of secondary schools reopening guidelines was also criticized by the shadow education secretary, Kate Green. She said that it was unfair for school heads who had spent months inquiring the government to provide information on what they should do in case of local spread of the virus that results in a lockdown.

However, their calls had remained unanswered, only for the government to release the guidelines, just days before schools are reopened. She indicated that secondary school heads were now under pressure, looking at these guidelines and wondering how they will implement them. She also said headteachers were now looking at whether to implement changes to their system so that they can run the schools in accordance with the guidelines.

Her sentiments were echoed by Paul Whiteman, the leader of the NAHT union, who also indicated that teachers had been frustrated with no answers for months about how to deal with the spread of coronavirus in their community. He also criticized the government’s late decision for secondary schools reopening guidelines, calling it reprehensible.

 

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