Posted: Sat 2nd May 2020

Concerns raised that access to protective equipment could become ‘postcode lottery’ for teachers in Wales

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

A union says it doesn’t want protection for teachers looking after key workers’ children to become a “postcode lottery” due to differing approaches to protection against Covid-19. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Headteachers’ union NAHT Cymru made the plea after it emerged teachers are not routinely supplied with PPE by councils. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Although measures are being taken to ensure social distancing it is not always possible to enforce with children. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Certain schools across North Wales have become education “hubs” for the children of essential workers and although take up has been lower than anticipated, the NAHT believes consistency should applied. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Director of NAHT Cymru Laura Doel said: “There are currently discrepancies between local authorities throughout Wales on their positions on PPE in schools. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“The Welsh Government, based on medical evidence from Public Health Wales, says that following hygiene and social distancing measures continues to be appropriate for school staff in schools and hubs. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“However, the same government guidance also goes on to say that where social distancing cannot be maintained and there is direct contact, a risk assessment should be put in place and this should consider where the use of gloves and aprons is required. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“We know that in a school setting social distancing is not always possible and on that basis we urge LAs to heed the government advice that individual risk assessments of each childcare setting should dictate what protective measures are appropriate. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“The guidance is clear and this is not an issue that should become a postcode lottery. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“It is the employers’ responsibility to make sure that school staff, children and their families are protected and kept safe.” ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Denbighshire council said staff at schools were not using PPE. However a spokesman said: “The Council is doing everything possible in its Key Worker Childcare Hubs to ensure the safety of all pupils, staff and visitors. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“These measure include implementing social distancing measures as well as high standards of personal hygiene including frequent hand-washing as per government guidance. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“Each Hub has in place a robust cleaning regime throughout the school day, following activities and at the end of the day. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“This ensures that frequently touched surfaces in the occupied areas of the school are cleaned with recommended products. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“This is aimed at reducing the risk of possible transmission from touching surfaces.” ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Flintshire council said: “All Hubs have stocks of appropriate PPE available for all staff in line with Welsh Government guidance.” ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

A spokeswoman for Conwy council said there were “clear processes for schools wishing to obtain PPE if required” which was in line with Welsh Government guidance. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

A Gwynedd Council spokesperson said: “We are working continuously to ensure working practices across all Council departments including, schools adhere to Government Covid guidelines.” ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Anglesey and Wrexham councils were also approached for comment. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

By Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

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