Union poll finds 48% of teachers saying they tested positive during spring term, with many now struggling to access free tests
Almost half of UK teachers, many of them triple-jabbed, have tested positive for Covid in the last term, according to a new survey.
Despite government insistence that it is “business as usual” in schools in England, 48% of teachers polled by the NASUWT teachers’ union said they had tested positive during the spring term.
In addition, nearly 30% said their school had been forced to close or send home either classes or year groups because of an outbreak of Covid.
The NASUWT expressed alarm at the continuing high Covid rates in schools and called for more protection and support for teachers, many of whom have had Covid multiple times.
More than a quarter (26%) of those who took part in the poll of 4,000 members said they had felt under pressure to go to work even when they believed they had Covid-19 symptoms. Meanwhile, just under a third struggled to access free tests.
“Regardless of what the prime minister tries to claim, the pandemic is still with us – continuing to disrupt children’s education because of the government’s business as usual approach,” said Dr Patrick Roach, the NASUWT general secretary.
Almost one in three (29%) teachers polled said there had been a Covid outbreak declared at their school or college in the past term, but only half (53%) of those who took part in the survey were confident their setting had an outbreak management plan in place.
Just over 7% of those who responded to the survey – about 260 NASUWT members – said after having Covid-19, they were asked to return to school prior to the sixth day of absence after a positive test.
Three out of five (59%) said they had felt generally under pressure to return to school when ill, and 28% said they did not feel that their school or college had managed their health and safety well.
“Teachers have been left vulnerable and unsupported since Covid-19 mitigations have been removed,” said Roach. “Without access to free tests and additional safety measures, schools will struggle to protect staff and maintain continuity of provision for pupils.
“It is vital that appropriate action is taken swiftly to ensure that schools continue to operate safely and that teachers are supported rather than bullied when they are ill.”