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Teacher unions in the UK and Ireland have warned leaders of a “very real risk of creating a spike in the transmission of the virus by a premature opening of schools”. A letter, sent by the British and Irish Group of Teacher Unions (BIGTU) to education ministers in all five nations on behalf of almost 1 million teachers and education staff, calls for test and trace measures to be fully operational before reopening. It also called for “significant operational changes in place to ensure effective social distancing” in schools, strong hygiene routines, thorough cleaning practices and appropriate PPE where required.  The letter also urges the government to share all of the available data and to listen and respect the expertise of education practitioners before coming to a decision. Scotland and Wales have already sketched out plans for a phased return of schools, with England’s Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, saying he will also take a phased approach.  It has been reported that 1st June is the earliest realistic date for schools to reopen in England. Read full letter here.

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