UNISON Carmarthenshire branch has sent a letter to Carmarthenshire County Council’s Director of Education asking him to oppose the Welsh Government’s plans to reopen schools at the end of this month (June 2020)
The letter reads as follows:
Dear Mr Morgan,
We wish to make Carmarthenshire County Council aware of Carmarthenshire County Unison’s response to the recent announcement by Kirsty Williams Education Minister Welsh Government that schools in Wales would reopen to pupils of all years on June 29th. This announcement was made without the agreement of the Education Trade Unions and we consider that the above date and the proposals are ill judged, premature and there is real risk they will contribute to an upsurge in Covid-19 infections. While school staff, parents and pupils want schools to reopen this should only be done when it is safe to do so.
We believe that the health risks of reopening schools across Wales and Carmarthenshire far outweigh any potential benefit of a ‘catch up and check in’ with pupils. While we appreciate that the situation is fluid and by June 29th the situation may have sufficiently improved to allow a safer return to school it is just as likely that the situation may have deteriorated.
We do not agree to the premature reopening of schools when the Trade Unions tests have not been met- namely to name just two that the infection and death rate remains unacceptably high and there is insufficient testing, tracking and tracing in place particularly in Carmarthenshire. Test results are taking far too long and without the above the government will not be able to assess whether the infection rate has increased. Further the experience of our members and the school hubs is that children particularly young children will not be able to maintain social distancing therefore school staff, pupils and pupil ‘s family’s will be at risk of infection. Even the Tory government have made a u turn regarding primary schools taking more pupils.
We think Welsh Government’s proposals are ill thought out and it took the Welsh Government a week to provide the guidance to back up their announcement. In effect losing Education Departments, schools, and Local Authorities a week to prepare and organise for schools to reopen. We are aware it will be a logistical nightmare for Local Authorities and schools such as Carmarthenshire to organise a reopening of schools or increasing those attending.
We are aware that a significant percentage of parents will not allow their children to return to school at present, they will carry out their own risk assessment and judge that currently the risks are too great for their children to return to school.
We call on Carmarthenshire County Council to publicly oppose Welsh Government’s proposals to reopen schools on the 29th June. We ask that the Council join with the Trade Unions in opposing these proposals that put the health of pupils, their families, and staff at risk for little tangible benefit for most pupils.
Carmarthenshire County UNISON Branch
The council have been contacted for comment.