Teachers raise fears over social distancing compliance

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Teachers have raised their concerns that colleagues, pupils and parents are not consistently respecting social distancing measures in and around school.

A survey of almost 7,000 teachers across primary and secondary schools has revealed low levels of compliance with a number of Covid-19 safety measures.

It finds that only 30 per cent of teachers say that their colleagues often or always respect the two-metre social distancing measure.

Furthermore, 56 per cent of teachers say that pupils rarely or never practise social distancing from adults in school, while 32 per cent report that some parents at their school are not respecting the two-metre limit when dropping off or picking up children.

Conducted by the NASUWT between September 25 and 29, the survey involved 6,717 teachers, who said that overcrowded classrooms (73 per cent) and the physical layout of school buildings (68 per cent) are the main barriers to social distancing between staff and pupils.

More than six in ten (61 per cent) say that pupils and adults are not routinely wearing masks in communal areas of schools. Masks are obligatory for secondary aged pupils in communal areas.

Nearly a third (32 per cent) of the teachers said groups of pupils had been sent home from their school since the start of the new academic year because of positive or suspected cases of Covid within the school; 69 per cent had pupils in their school who have displayed Covid symptoms and half knew of staff who had symptoms.

Nine per cent of the respondents said they had been required to attend face-to-face meetings such as parental meetings or parents’ evenings. Five per cent have been required to attend school open days.

Almost three-quarters of the respondents (73 per cent) said their levels of stress and anxiety were “high” or very high”.

NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “At a time when the government has raised the Covid threat level and introduced stricter curbs designed to limit social interactions it is worrying that many schools do not appear to be implementing Covid secure working practices or reviewing their risk assessments in light of the increased threat levels.

“The failure of government to provide schools with additional funding is leading to schools cutting corners on safety. As increased numbers of staff are forced to self-isolate, serious operational difficulties are emerging for schools in maintaining safe working practices.”


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