A TEACHING union has called for staff to be given personal protective equipment (PPE) and regular Covid-19 tests when pupils return to classrooms in August.

The EIS union’s West Dunbartonshire branch said a number of conditions needed to be met for staff to feel safe. And they said the reopening of schools “must put us on our guard”.

But council officials have insisted they are working to ensure the health and safety of all pupils and staff.

The Scottish Government announced last week schools would aim to reopen on August 11, with a blend of in-class and at-home learning.

In the coming weeks, there will be an increase in children of key workers at schools and transition support for those going into P1 and S1.

Jim Halfpenny, joint secretary of the EIS locally, said there needs to be live data on low infection rates in West Dunbartonshire before schools can reopen.

He said there should be “an effective cleaning regime to clean schools at least once a day with training and resources to carry out effective deep cleans”.

Mr Halfpenny added: “At present, councils across the the country are unable to achieve this because of years of budget cuts.”

He also said there should be “regular testing of staff with a ‘test, trace and isolate policy’” and clear protocols for isolation of children or adults when illness is in a school.

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Mr Halfpenny also called for sufficient PPE, adding: “We cannot allow the same ‘mistakes’ to be made that devastated the care homes.”

The union concluded: “Much of the preparation for August will be achievable from home. Bringing some pupils in before the summer break would be incredibly foolish.

“When we do return, education will have been transformed. The concept of ‘blended learning’ will be the new norm.

“On the back of outstanding work by teachers during this lockdown, we will all be pulling together in the hope that this works for our pupils.”

Council officials said toilets, food preparation areas and first aid rooms are cleaned daily, with other areas cleaned on alternate days.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “We are working with our colleagues across education to ensure the health, wellbeing and safety of all of our young people and employees.

“Comprehensive health and safety measures will be in place including limiting numbers within our schools, physical distancing, testing and the use of PPE as required as they are currently within our school hubs.

“We will continue to follow and be led by guidance from the Scottish Government including data, evidence and the government’s knowledge and advice on the virus.

“More than 2,500 Chromebooks have been provided to West Dunbartonshire pupils to ensure everyone can access online learning and further support the blended model.”

She added: “Recovery plans will focus on ensuring the return is as safe as possible for our workforce, children and young people across our early learning and childcare and schools establishments and operational buildings.”

West Dunbartonshire Council officials were due to meet with the EIS as the Post went to press on Tuesday.