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Teachers raise concerns over infection control within schools and plea for government help

PUBLISHED: 19:00 24 March 2020

Suffolk school teachers are struggling with infection control. Picture: PA

Suffolk school teachers are struggling with infection control. Picture: PA

Schools in Suffolk caring for the children of key workers and vulnerable people are raising concerns about the lack of infection control, medical training or supplies teachers have available.

Graham White is the Suffolk representative for the National Union of Teachers. Picture: TUDOR MORGAN-OWENGraham White is the Suffolk representative for the National Union of Teachers. Picture: TUDOR MORGAN-OWEN

While hospital workers are provided with cleaning supplies and protective personal equipment (PPE), schools have been left with very little specific guidance on how to combat the spread of the most challenging virus outbreak of the century.

Graham White, who represents Suffolk for the National Union of Teachers, has spoken about the difficult and dangerous conditions teachers are facing this week.

MORE: A packed list of online resources to help you teach your child from home

“We don’t know how often to clean to maintain infection control,” he explained.

“We are not sure about cleaning; do we have enough wipes or antibacterial spray?

“And, we don’t know which children are clean or who has the virus, as these are children of key workers who are most likely to be infected – PPE is essential and I know the hospitals need it more urgently but we need it too.”

The government have released general guidance on hand washing, how the virus is transmitted and the act of social distancing, much of this advice is not thought to be practical or accurate enough for schools.

Mr White added: “They have given no detailed instruction for teachers to follow for specific situations which many of us have found ourselves dealing with.

“They have tried to take a clear steer on what to do but there is an awful lot they still need to do – This is essential for the government to get right.”

Guidance on rotas for teaching staff, managing the lockdown and decisions about ‘key worker’ parents has all been left to the individual schools to decide.

The union spokesman believes this advice should be issued from the central government in Westminster but should be passed on through the local authority to school leaders.

A spokesperson for the Suffolk County Council said: “School staff are rising to the national challenge COVID-19 presents with remarkable resilience and commitment.

“We recognise one of the biggest challenges is infection control and PPE. We are in daily contact with officials from the Department for Education pressing for clear and supportive guidance on how diverse school settings can best protect children and the staff who are looking after them.”

MORE: All of the updates on coronavirus in Suffolk

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