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4 local education unions – GMB, NASUWT, NEU and UNISON – have sent an open letter to the Isle of Wight’s Cabinet Member for Children’s services expressing their views about the re-opening of schools.

The letter, addressed to Councillor Paul Brading, has been signed by Dominic Coughlin, Dawn Garey, Mark Chiverton and Liam Cumming. It agrees with Cllr Brading’s view that the harder decisions are around how schools re-open, not when.

Peter Shreeve, Assistant District Secretary of the National Education Union said:

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“We particularly agree with Councillor Brading’s recent remark ‘harder decisions are around not when to reopen, but how. If it’s not right and we’re not ready, it won’t be done’.

“All four unions believe, it is neither the ‘right’ time, nor do we believe that schools are ‘ready’ to return on June 1st. They have also been listening intently to members views.

“Earlier this week the NEU met online with its island school representatives to hear concerns about a potential June 1st primary schools opening. They were asked to go through a planning guide, to allay fears that everything was being done to mitigate against transmission. It includes a national 20-page safety checklist, written jointly by NEU in collaboration with GMB, Unison and Unite.

“This letter to Councillor Brading follows on the heels of a recent joint national statement by nine education unions, which said: “We call on the government to step back from the 1st June and work with us to create the conditions for a safe return to schools based on the principles and tests we have set out”.

“The virus has not yet disappeared. We still have concerns around the dangers of the spread of coronavirus within schools, and externally from schools to parents, sibling and relatives, and to the wider community. All education staff do genuinely want schools to re-open, but only when it is safe.”

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