The rapid rise in Covid-19 cases could cause “significant disruption” to schools unless “immediate action” is taken by the Scottish Government, teachers’ leaders have warned.
As schools prepare to open again after the Christmas holidays, the NASUWT union has insisted a range of measures are needed to help combat surging infection levels resulting from the Omicron variant.
Ministers are being urged to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission in the classroom by funding air-cleaning units for every school and college that needs such devices.
The union is also calling for schools to get more resources for on-site coronavirus testing and additional cash to help both schools and colleges cover the costs of supply staff to cover for Covid-related absences.
It comes as Scotland has reported record levels of coronavirus cases over the festive break.
NASUWT general secretary Patrick Roach said: “Teachers have been on the frontline throughout the pandemic to support pupils and students and provide them with the best education possible.
“However, the rising number of cases of the Omicron variant could cause significant disruption in the next academic term with many teachers being forced to self-isolate.
“The Scottish Government must take immediate action to ensure that schools can continue to operate safely and provide high-quality education.”
Mike Corbett, NASUWT national official for Scotland, said: “Teachers, pupils and students, and parents will be concerned about the potential risk of further disruption to schools caused by the Omicron variant.
“The Scottish Government must do everything it can to prevent schools from experiencing significant staffing problems next term and further damage to the education of children and young people.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Teachers have been outstanding throughout the pandemic and we can’t thank them enough. The safety and wellbeing of pupils, teachers and school staff is our top priority.
“Our updated guidance on reducing Covid risks in schools is informed by expert advice and the views of those on the Covid education recovery group, which includes teachers’ representatives.
“We know this is a concerning time and we will continue to closely monitor the situation and keep the schools safety guidance under regular review, while focusing on minimising further disruption to learning.
“Our guidance for return to school includes a number of enhanced protections, including approaches to CO2 monitoring and ensuring good levels of ventilation are maintained, backed by £10 million of additional funding to local authorities to complete initial CO2 assessments of all learning, teaching and play spaces in their schools.”