The Education Solidarity Network (ESN), a section of the wider National Education Union, has outlined a set of requirements for the Government to meet ahead of the re-opening of schools in less than a fortnight. All students in England are set to return to the classroom in September following a six month absence due to the pandemic.
The group of campaigners want to ensure the Government provides free PPE, accommodates for smaller classes and weekly coronavirus tests for teachers.
The ESN also want parents to be given greater powers to remove their children from school without the threat of fines if they have any safety concerns.
With a rise in local lockdowns across the UK, the group also say schools should close if coronavirus infection rates rise to 50 per 100,000 people.
James Kerr, a senior figure in the Education Solidarity Network, told The Times: “We have already lost colleagues to the virus and will lose more if there is not action.
Schoolchildren in England are set to return to the classroom in September
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson faced a backlash over exam results
“It’s not the Victorian era anymore. Every worker should be able to go to work in the knowledge that they will return alive and well.”
On Friday, demonstrators took part in a “day of action” across the UK including in Bristol, Worcester and Leicester.
The Government has already outlined plans to help ensure schools are COVID-secure by introducing one-way systems, extra cleaning and staggered timetables for children starting and finishing their school day.
Secondary school children aged between 11 and 16 will also be put into year group “bubbles”.
Students protests forced the Government into a U-turn
Conservative Party co-chairman Amanda Milling, has lashed out of the demands of the group and warned they are putting the future of children at risk.
The MP for Cannock Chase, has called on Sir Keir Starmer, who has backed the return of schools, to take a more prominent lead and tackle the unions.
She said: “This hard-left action takes a wrecking ball to our children’s futures.
The Government has outlined plans to make school covid-secure
“Sir Keir Starmer and the NEU need to take a stand and put a stop to this action that puts the future of so many young people at risk.
“Getting children back to school is a key priority and we should all be working together to get pupils back safely.
“We have a detailed plan and it’s time for Labour and the NEU to work with us to ensure the life chances of a generation of schoolchildren — particularly the most disadvantaged — are not lost to coronavirus.”
Brexit LIVE: EU splits laid bare in trade talks amid no deal threat [LIVE]
UK quarantine measures are a total punishment, says JUDY FINNIGAN [COMMENT]
Met Office forecast: Sunny weather returns after Storm Ellen exit [FORECAST]
Coronavirus cases around the UK
The National Education Union has distanced itself from the demands of the group but has outlined the need for a “robust track, trace and test programme”.
A union spokesman said: “We have to prepare for a range of possible scenarios – including pupils and teachers having to isolate.
“We are pressing the Government on the need to have a robust track, trace and test programme in place and a Plan B in the case of local lockdowns or a second spike.”