Parentkind fully supports the 250,000-strong petition by the NEU asking that schools should only reopen once it is safe to do so. We believe that the five tests set by the NEU provide a clear framework for making this decision.
As an organisation, Parentkind is opposed to the reopening of schools without clear criteria about how this decision will be taken and clarity about the validity of the evidence base that will underpin it. Only when school leaders, the Government, and parents are in agreement that it is time for schools to re-open should that happen.
9/10 parents oppose the reopening of schools as soon as lockdown ends
Our major survey, responded to by over quarter of a million parents, shows that 90% would oppose the re-opening of schools as soon as lockdown ends. This level of opposition shows that most parents require greater reassurance that educational settings are a safe environment for their child before they will be prepared to allow them to return. This will require consultation with parents so that they understand and are on board with the government’s intentions before plans are enacted. We encourage policymakers to undertake good engagement with parents to ensure that they are satisfied with measures that the government takes ahead of schools reopening.
Many parents may for valid reasons take the view that when schools reopen they do not regard it as safe for their children or family members for them to return, especially where they are vulnerable. Parentkind is reassured by DfE guidance that these absences will not be labelled unauthorised or subject to financial penalty.
The NEU's five tests
Test 1 : Much lower numbers of Covid-19 cases
The new case count must be much lower than it is now, with a sustained downward trend and confidence that new cases are known and counted promptly. And the Government must have extensive arrangements for testing and contact tracing to keep it that way.
Test 2 : A national plan for social distancing
The Government must have a national plan including parameters for both appropriate physical distancing and levels of social mixing in schools, as well as for appropriate PPE, which will be locally negotiated at school-by-school and local authority level.
Test 3 : Testing, testing, testing!
Comprehensive access to regular testing for children and staff to ensure our schools and colleges don’t become hot spots for Covid-19.
Test 4 : Whole school strategy
Protocols to be put in place to test a whole school or college when a case occurs and for isolation to be strictly followed.
Test 5 : Protection for the vulnerable
Vulnerable staff, and staff who live with vulnerable people, must work from home, fulfilling their professional duties to the extent that is possible. Plans must be specifically address the protection of vulnerable parents, grandparents and carers.
See more on the NEU's website.