Government must let schools go online to rescue Christmas

Switch two weeks before Christmas would make all the difference

Support staff are urging ministers to let schools move all lessons online from next month to stop rising infections and save Christmas, says UNISON today (Wednesday).

The union says a switch to full online teaching two weeks before Christmas would cut the risk of families being forced to self-isolate over the festive break.

UNISON wants the government to allow schools and councils to decide the mix of classroom and home-based learning that ​would be the most effective in stemming increasing transmission rates locally.

This would keep pupils, staff and the wider community safe – especially in towns and cities with high infection rates like Hull, Hartlepool and Dudley – by limiting the number of children in school at any one time, says UNISON.

UNISON head of education Jon Richards said: “Schools in Covid-hit areas are struggling to stay open. High numbers of children and staff are sick or self-isolating – and it’s only going to get worse.

“Schools and local authorities know what’s ​happening on their doorsteps and what’s best for pupils, staff and local residents. The government must step back and let headteachers, mayors and council leaders make their own decisions.

“Measures such as increased social distancing and virtual learning are vital in the run up to the festive season. It’s the only way to stop infections spiralling out of control and save Christmas.

“​Employers should be encouraged to support working parents so children can learn from home properly. The government must also provide the funds for laptops and other home-learning kit so disadvantaged children don’t lose out.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.       

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