The biggest teachers’ union in the UK is demanding that the Government move all schools and colleges to online lessons with immediate effect to safeguard public health.

It follows a Government U-turn which means all primary schools in London will remain shut next week.

The Teachers’ Union NASUWT has now called on the Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson to introduce an immediate nationwide move to remote education for all pupils in primary, secondary and special schools and colleges.

The union’s General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach states in a letter sent to Mr Williamson that this is “is the only sensible and credible option at this time to minimise the risks to those working in schools and to safeguard public health”.

It follows a demand earlier today from the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, Mary Bousted, after the Education Secretary bowed to pressure to close primary schools in London.

Dr Bousted said her union would be holding an emergency meeting today to discuss the “chaos which is engulfing our schools”.

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She added that what was right for London was right for the rest of the country and called on ministers to “do their duty” and close all primary and secondary schools to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Roach pointed out that the country finds itself in the grip of an escalation of virus transmission which, the NASUWT believes strongly, requires additional urgent measures beyond those set out to date.

Dr Roach said: “The NASUWT is completely committed to ensuring that children can return to school as quickly as possible.

“However, it is now abundantly clear that the pandemic is seriously impacting on the ability of all schools and colleges to continue to operate normally.

“There is genuine concern that schools and colleges are not able to reopen fully and safely at this time.

“The NASUWT remains of the view that schools, colleges and other settings should only remain open to all pupils where it is safe for them to do so.

“The NASUWT will not hesitate to take appropriate action in order to protect members whose safety is put at risk as a result of the failure of employers or the Government to ensure safe working conditions in schools and colleges.”

The NASUWT has also written to employers to remind them that with the impending reopening of schools and colleges, it is essential that their previous covid-security plans are revised and updated.

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