The NASUWT has written to local authorities saying teachers will not return to school if it is not safe to do so.
The NASUWT teachers’ union has written to local authorities threatening to take legal action to stop schools in England from reopening if it is not safe to do so.
It says teachers can legally refuse to return when schools reopen unless they get the same protections against Covid-19 as other frontline staff.
The Local Government Association has also asked for councils to be given powers to close schools if testing indicates clusters of new COVID-19 cases.
The NASUWT supports that call, saying it is a “vital part of controlling the spread of the virus”, but that it needs to be backed up by an effective and widespread testing and tracing programme. Dr Patrick Roach, the union’s General Secretary, said: “We have challenged the government to publish the scientific advice which underpins its decision to try to start to reopen schools from 1 June and to explain how it can demonstrate to school staff and parents that the decisions it is making are the right ones to protect public health. The NASUWT remains clear that no school should reopen until it can demonstrate that it is safe to do so.”
The Government says that primary schools in England will be able to start reopening from the first week of June, beginning with reception and years one and six. It aims to have all primary classes back to school around a month before the summer holidays, subject to safety guidance and reviews. Its guidance on schools reopening has a raft of suggestions for schools, including limiting classes to a maximum of 15 pupils. On secondary schools, it aims for years 10 and 12 to have some face to face contact before the summer holidays, subject to safety measures being in place.
Education union leaders will today meet with the Chief Medical Officer and other experts to hear why the Government deems it safe to begin reopening schools from 1st June.