Teachers’ Union accuse PM of ‘trying to save his job’ after classroom masks scrapped

A leading teachers’ union has criticised on the government’s plans to ease Plan B restrictions.

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union said in response to news that face coverings will no longer be required in classrooms: “Schools and colleges are still feeling the impact of COVID. The latest ONS infection survey update shows 1 in 10 primary age pupils have COVID. While the trend amongst secondary aged children is down it is however uncertain, due to the short time schools have been back since the Christmas holidays, that this trend will continue. Such uncertainty could lead to a pronounced risk of increased disruption with children and staff having to isolate.”

Pupils in year 7 and above, along with staff and visitors, were “strongly advised” to wear face coverings under Plan B guidelines launched in December in light of the Omicron variant.

Dr Bousted went on: “We are concerned to see what the Covid related absence is when figures are released next week. The danger is we lift restrictions too quickly before the effects of returning to school are clear. This will result in more education disruption which is extremely worrying particularly for pupils taking national exams this year whose education has been so badly disrupted already.

“Rather than announcements aimed at saving Boris Johnson’s job, Government should be exercising a duty of care to the nation’s pupils and the staff who educate them. This disruption is at the door of the Government who should have got ventilation and filtration solutions in place before Omicron as advised by SAGE and they should be getting these solutions in place urgently now to ensure ​interruption of education remains at the minimum.”

In this morning’s broadcast round, Health secretary Sajid Javid said relaxing restrictions, including in educational settings, was a “balanced decision.”

“There has long been a debate about face masks, particularly in schools,” he rold the BBC. “The government’s job is to take a balanced and proportionate decision, in this case balanced against the best interests of children.”

“It is harder to teach children and it will have an impact on their education if they are required to wear face mask at all times in classrooms.”