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Debate: Safe Schools

Wednesday 18 November 2020 2:50 PM

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That the Parliament believes that education is best delivered in the classroom, but that making schools safe for pupils, teachers and staff must be a top priority of government during the pandemic; notes that, as of 10 November 2020, 29,486 pupils and 2,615 staff were absent from Scottish schools for COVID-19-related reasons, with absence rates affecting areas with higher levels of deprivation more; expresses concern regarding reports that some school staff have been instructed to turn off the Protect Scotland app when in school and may have felt under pressure to continue to attend schools even when notified by the app of a potential exposure risk; considers it unacceptable that some clinically vulnerable teachers have felt pressured to return to in-person teaching against specific advice from their GPs to the contrary and in the absence of an overall national strategy on how to deal with school staff with chronic or underlying health conditions; calls on the Scottish Government to work with local authorities to ensure that any vulnerable school staff member who is medically unable to attend school in person without being placed at unacceptable risk is better supported to either work from home or in a safer alternative setting, or, if this is not possible, to potentially be placed on leave without loss of income; expresses disappointment in government efforts to adequately prepare resource levels for COVID-19-related staff absences; calls on the Scottish Government to deliver funding for the purpose of recruiting at least an additional 2,000 full-time teachers to ensure that all schools can maintain safe staffing levels while managing absences due to COVID-19, and further calls on the Scottish Government to make regular voluntary COVID-19 testing widely available for asymptomatic staff and senior pupils across all of Scotland’s schools.

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