Scottish schools: teachers may have to draw ‘do not cross’ lines in classrooms for their own safety, warns Educational Institute of Scotland

Staff may have to draw 'do not cross' line in classrooms as schools prepare to reopen, a union has warned.

Teachers have expressed their concerns about classroom safety to the Scottish Government as schools across the country are set to reopen next week.

Schools will open their doors on August 11, with official guidance issued to councils stating children should "return to school as quickly and as safely as possible".

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However the head of Scotland's biggest teaching union has warned that staff may have to resort to drawing a "'don't cross' line across the front of the class" to stop pupils moving too close to them.

Staff may have to draw 'do not cross' line in classrooms as schools prepare to reopen, a union has warned.

Last week it was revealed that teachers and pupils will not be tested routinely for coronavirus when all schools reopen, despite fears of a possible second wave.

However the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) wants widespread access for asymptomatic teachers who wish to be tested for Covid-19.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, which is represented on the Scottish Government's Covid-19 Education Recovery Group, said: "The executive believes more needs to be done around proactive testing of staff within schools.

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"Accordingly, as general secretary, I will be writing to the deputy first minister making the case for access to testing for any asymptomatic teacher who requests it.

"This will help build confidence in the safety of the schools as a workplace, which is critically important given the justified concerns and anxieties of many teachers."

In a letter sent out to union members, Mr Flanagan has also warned "we will see an increasing use of face coverings among pupils" and that staff "need to be alert to the fact that schools may have to close again, if the infection levels start to rise sharply".

He said: "The key mitigation remains two-metre physical distancing between staff and pupils and between all adults.

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"I know that some members have expressed concern about the ability of pupils to adhere to such a rule but, frankly, if it means a 'don't cross' line across the front of the class, then that should happen."

It has been confirmed that what is described as an "enhanced surveillance" involving sample testing and covering only a cross-section of schools is being planned by the Scottish Government - but that may not be in place by August 11.

Guidance does not yet make clear how often the testing would be carried out.

It will also take two confirmed positive cases in a school within a 14-day period to be classed as an official incident.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "This has been an extremely difficult time for all. We know that many pupils will need extra help to catch up.

"We are investing an additional £100 million to tackle the impact of lockdown and ensure children get the support they need. We continue to monitor the parental surveys conducted by the NPFS."

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