Teaching qualifications

Scottish teachers’ union calls for post-Christmas reopening of schools

As reported by BBC News, teachers’ union calls for postponement of reopening of schools after Christmas break due to rapid spread of Omicron

The Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA) says staffing issues already exist and the problem is likely to get worse. However, the Scottish government has insisted that there are currently no plans to close schools. It comes as a number of colleges return to blended learning this week. The move aims to protect staff and students amid the rapid spread of the COVID-19 variant.

Colleges Scotland said several colleges are also planning blended education for the first two weeks of next year. Seamus Searson, general secretary of the SSTA teachers’ union, told the BBC Hello Scotland program, he was already hearing about schools that were not fully staffed due to the increase in COVID cases. And he said parents are keeping their children away to make sure they don’t catch COVID as Christmas approaches.

Searson said: “At the moment, schools are struggling to stay open due to the number of teachers absent due to the virus.

“We have to be reasonable and say that the virus will spread inside schools.

“There seems to be some sort of notion that the virus is not spreading in school and teachers are immune. “

The latest official figures released last week showed that there were 31,303 students out of school for some COVID reason.

Among these :

  • 22,416 were self-insulating
  • 5,132 had COVID
  • 3,755 were cared for at home by parents / guardians
  • 3,291 staff members were absent absent

Nearly 6,000 new cases of the coronavirus were reported across Scotland on Sunday, with Omicron now the dominant variant.

Currently, the Scots are advised to reduce their socialization as much as possible and limit gatherings to three households – although large-scale events, including the Scottish League Cup final, have been allowed to take place. Colleges in Edinburgh and the City of Glasgow will switch to online learning from Monday through the end of the quarter on Wednesday, while other colleges – including Dumfries and Galloway College and Dundee and Angus College – will reduce also activity on campus and will travel as much as possible online.

Colleges Scotland said the aim was to protect people and reduce pressure on public transport and the NHS as Omicron cases increase. Colleges will remain in contact with students throughout December and January as plans are subject to change.

Shona Struthers, Managing Director of Colleges Scotland, said: “Colleges have prepared themselves very well for this model and students can rest assured that the quality of their university experience is protected.”

She said colleges are already operating at a higher security level throughout the fall and winter and expect this to continue when learning resumes in January.

“Anyone over the age of 18 in Scotland can now get the first, second and second doses of the vaccine and getting a boost over the Christmas holidays will help us all get back to school more quickly and safely during the new year, ”Ms. Struthers said.

“Students have also been able to access lateral flow testing in their college for many months, and I urge anyone attending a campus to test regularly.”

Colleges Scotland said arrangements would vary among colleges to meet local needs, and urged students to check the information regularly.

Audrey Cumberford, President of the College Principals’ Group and Director of Edinburgh College, said: “Over the past 21 months, colleges have become adept at delivering high quality distance learning and teaching or in a hybrid model, with vulnerable students and priority practical subjects. to access our campus spaces.

Paul Little, Principal of City of Glasgow College and Vice-President of College Principals’ Group, added: Construction and the maritime industry – the college sector has a crucial role to play in helping our students acquire their qualifications even while we are facing this latest wave of viruses. “

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