UNISON North West “concerned” about PPE stocks for pupils and school staff

UNISON in the North West has expressed its fear that there will not be enough PPE to go around for school workers and pupils when schools reopen next week.

Earlier this week, the Government changed its guidance to schools by mandating secondary school pupils in local lockdown areas to wear face coverings in communal areas. The Government also gave head teachers at any school in the country the “flexibility” to introduce masks in their schools.

Since then, UNISON has been working with schools, local authorities and academies to develop plans to ensure our schools reopen and to keep pupils and support staff safe. UNISON has called for all support staff to be allowed to wear face coverings if they wish to but have now been led to believe that some schools in the North West may not have access to enough PPE to protect pupils and staff.

UNISON North West regional organiser Keith Bradley said: “In our discussions with local authorities this week, we have been calling for all school staff to have the right to protect themselves by wearing a face covering.

We are incredibly concerned to hear that the Department for Education have advised that schools will only get one delivery of PPE and will not receive any additional funds to support the purchase of face coverings.

The Government’s latest U-turn on face coverings is yet another half-baked policy. If we are going to keep our pupils, school staff and local community safe, the Government needs to ensure that all schools have enough PPE before they reopen next week.

We cannot have a situation where school staff are not provided with face coverings, or where pupils share masks or come to school without them- putting themselves and the staff who support them at risk. Nowhere is this more important than our region, which still has the highest number of cases and lockdown areas in the country.”