Teachers fear catching coronavirus will be like a ‘game of Russian roulette’ as schools in England prepare to reopen tomorrow.
Anxious staff have described their sleepless nights over a lack of PPE and no enforced social distancing in schools – with teacher one saying the fear took such a toll she was forced to take antidepressants.
Schools in Scotland have already reopened with thousands of secondary students instructed to wear face masks in communal areas and corridors – but not classrooms.
In England, masks must also be worn in all communal areas of secondary schools – including hallways – where social distancing is not possible.
Headteachers have been given the ‘flexibility’ to introduce further measures they deemed necessary – but hoards of concerned educators took to parenting internet forum Mumsnet claiming their schools aren’t doing enough.
Pupils at Rosshall Academy in Glasgow wear face coverings as it becomes mandatory in corridors and communal areas
Students at St Columba’s High School, Gourock, wear protective face masks as they head to lessons
Teachers fear catching coronavirus will be like a ‘game of Russian roulette’ as schools in England prepare to reopen tomorrow
Hoards of concerned educators took to parenting internet forum Mumsnet claiming their schools aren’t doing enough to prevent the spread of coronavirus
In a chat threat titled ‘wish I wasn’t a teacher because of Covid’ an anonymous user – who goes by the handle NebularNerd- wrote: ‘In my family/friends circle, I am the only one who will be face to face with 150+ people per day with no PPE, no social distancing, nothing.’
They add: ‘I can’t help but think that had I made a different career choice I would not now be faced with contracting a potentially life threatening virus and passing it on to my clinically extremely vulnerable husband or elderly parents.
‘I will go to work and try to ignore what’s going on in the world and do my best. But I wish I could be made to feel safer – screens, masks, fewer pupils, something.
‘I hope I’m worrying for nothing, but it is getting difficult to sleep at night.’
The user later adds: ‘Been a teacher for 13 years & I have two young children and a big mortgage. Even so, thinking of leaving but still can’t go until Christmas.
‘I can’t actually believe this is happening. The government have had MONTHS to put SOME/ANY safety measures in place for teachers, but nothing.
‘And then you’ve got articles arguing against masks in schools….
‘And teacher bashing from every angle…
Pupils at Rosshall Academy wear face coverings as it becomes mandatory in corridors and communal areas
Rebecca Ross and Sarah Watt, S4 students at St Columba’s High School, Gourock, disinfect their hands
‘I know that transmission is relatively low, but it feels like going to work will be like a game of Russian roulette.’
Others rushed to share their thoughts.
A user who goes by Motherrunner wrote: ‘Same here OP. For the first time in my life I’m taking antidepressants.
‘No doubt the usual folk will turn up to say ‘just quit’ like it’s easy to throw away a 20 year career.’
Another added: ‘We’ve been told no masks, no shields, no PPE. I will be working with 4/5 year olds so no distancing for me either.’
Pictures today showed thousands of students in Scotland wearing face masks as the new rules came into force.
The measures are in place in communal areas and corridors but children won’t have to wear face coverings while they are being taught in classrooms.
The rule will also apply on school transport for primary school pupils aged five and above and applies to all those at secondary school.
It comes as restrictions ease in other areas of life, with gyms, swimming pools and indoor sports courts allowed to reopen from August 31.
Announcing the new rules for schools last week, the Scottish Government said while staff and students can continue to wear face coverings if they wish, they will not generally be necessary in the classroom as there is greater scope for physical distancing and face coverings can have an impact on learning and teaching.
But it remains the case that where adults cannot keep a two-metre distance and are interacting face-to-face for more than 15 minutes, face coverings should be worn.
Indoor activities for children are still not allowed in Scotland.
Education Secretary John Swinney said: ‘There is increasing evidence that face coverings can provide some protection for the wearer as well as those around them.
‘We also know that some pupils have found it very difficult to physically distance when moving around school, which could increase the risk of transmission of the virus.
‘And on school transport, as on public transport, there can be mixing between different age groups.’
He added: ‘We want to continue to protect what we have achieved in suppressing the virus and re-opening schools, and to do the best for children in schools.’
Leah McCallum, Rebecca Ross and Sarah Watt, S4 students at St Columba’s High School, Gourock, put on their protective face masks as the requirement for secondary school pupils to wear face coverings when moving around school comes into effect from today
Pupils pictured wearing face coverings in the corridor as they return to school at St Columba’s in Gourock, Scotland
Pupils pictured wearing face coverings as they return to Rosshall Academy in Scotland
Mr Swinney has stressed pupils will not be excluded from school if they do not wear a face covering.
It follows the government’s U-turn on face masks for schools in England, with officials stating they should be worn in school corridors in areas under lockdown.
The masks were also made compulsory for communal areas of secondary schools where social distancing is not possible, while their headteachers were given ‘flexibility’ to introduce further measures they deemed necessary.
The change took place on August 26, just six days before millions of pupils were due to return to the classroom.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the change followed updated guidance from the World Health Organisation, which said children over 12 should wear masks.
Pupils at Rosshall Academy, Scotland, obey coronavirus restrictions and don face masks
Pupils more than 12 years old are required to wear face masks under government guidance
Pupils pictured pouring in to Rosshall Academy, Glasgow, for the first day of the new term
Families queue for three hours in last-minute dash for school uniform
The rush back to school has seen families having to queue for up to three hours in bracing wind and drizzle for new uniforms.
With many reopening next week, some parents left it late to pick up essentials, with the queue for Uniform Direct in Grimsby spanning several yards.
One mother, Marina Parker said: ‘There should be another queue for people who are just collecting and one for those ordering. This has taken me three hours.’
Margaret Rodger accompanied her daughter to buy uniform and said: ‘It is ridiculous. One woman popped her head round and asked the staff if she could just collect what she had ordered and was told she still had to queue like everyone else. She said she was a nurse and could not wait.’
Announcing the U-turn, Mr Williamson said: ‘Our priority is to get children back to school safely. At each stage we have listened to the latest medical and scientific advice.
‘We have therefore decided to follow the WHO’s new advice. In local lockdown areas, children in year 7 and above should wear face coverings in communcal spaces.
‘Outside of local lockdown areas, face coverings won’t be required in schools, though schools will have the flexibility to introduce measures if they believe it is right in their specific circumstances.
‘I hope these steps will provide parents, pupils and teachers with further reassurance.’
It comes following advice from the World Health Organisation that children aged 12 and over should wear face masks.
From Monday gyms, swimming pools and indoor sports courts in Scotland can reopen, subject to guidance.
This is two weeks earlier than the previous date of September 14 which had been pencilled in.
Scotland recorded just 160 new cases of coronavirus on August 31, and no further deaths.