Teachers are “nervous, stressed and worried” after a new survey revealed many Aberdeen schools have not reduced class sizes to help with social distancing.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) union, which released a survey upon the reopening of schools, found that 83% of its members in the city’s primary and secondary schools said there are no reductions in class sizes in place to enable effective physical distancing.
Around 33% also reported that physical distancing between staff and pupils was not in place across 23 schools in the city.
Ron Constable, EIS joint local association secretary in Aberdeen, said a number of teachers were fearful about the transfer of the virus within classrooms.
He also called for more funding to enable schools to increase teacher numbers and reduce class sizes.
“What we are primarily worried about is our members and the children in our care”, Mr Constable said.
“What the Scottish Government has said is that education is a priority, and we agree with that, but everybody has to be safe.
“We’re asking them to employ more teachers and reduce class sizes to make it as safe as possible for pupils and staff – but we need to prevent schools from closing down.
“Some classes have 30 to 33 pupils, getting it down to 15 would make a tremendous difference.
“But the money has to come from the Scottish Government.”
The most recent Scottish Government guidance states that primary and secondary schools should consider altering class sizes and composition to create more space “where staffing within the school allows it”.
It also suggests pupils be kept in “consistent groups” to reduce the likelihood of direct transmission.
A spokeswoman for Aberdeen City Council claimed schools would need “twice as many staff” to socially distance pupils from each another.
She added: “All measures have been taken to socially distance staff from one another and where possible staff from learners.
“Where this cannot be maintained, appropriate personal protective equipment has been provided to all schools and face coverings have been encouraged and the wearing of these supported.
“Scottish Government guidance suggests social distancing between pupils where possible and, in many of our settings, to maintain this in class areas would be unmanageable with current staffing support.”
In June, the Scottish Government announced a £50 million ring-fenced package for the recruitment of approximately 850 extra teachers and around 200 additional support staff.
Education Secretary John Swinney also pledged that £20 million will be allocated to help councils with additional costs associated with new health protection measures, school transport and enhanced cleaning.