Pre-schools including nurseries must be closed except to educate the children of key workers and those who are vulnerable, says UNISON today (Tuesday).
The union is urging the government to reconsider its decision to keep early-years establishments open, despite concerns over a new Covid strain.
Early-years staff should also be made a priority for vaccination and mass testing says UNISON, and employees should not be expected to go into work until these safety measures are put in place.
In addition, the union says protection must be extended to employees in schools open for the children of key workers and for vulnerable pupils and students.
This includes special schools where many children have health issues that make them vulnerable to infection, and schools with pupils outside mainstream education where pupil behaviour and social distancing is a challenge.
UNISON head of education Jon Richards said: “Keeping nurseries and other pre-schools open puts staff and communities at risk.
“Social distancing is impossible with young children and the government has yet to publish the scientific evidence to justify nurseries being treated differently to schools.
“The decision seems to have been taken with little regard to the health and safety of employees.
“Ministers must treat nurseries the same as schools, as in the first lockdown. Staff must be a priority for vaccinations and mass testing.”
Notes to editors:
– UNISON will continue advising early years staff to consider whether their place of work is safe for them and if they should exercise their right not to attend.
– 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. It is also the leading union for early years workers with over 50,000 members working with young children.
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