What Voice would like to see before schools and nurseries reopen

Voice's position on schools and nurseries reopening to all children and students following the coronavirus/COVID-19 lockdown

By Deborah Lawson, General Secretary, Voice

Schools and early years settings responded with little notice and very quickly to the lockdown.  Since then, teachers and early years and support staff have worked tirelessly and very creatively to produce exciting learning activities which pupils and children can do at home.  They have rapidly upskilled to make use of the latest technology to support remote learning, and have worked through their holidays without additional pay to ensure facilities for key workers are available. 

They must be supported now, and through any process of opening schools and nurseries to more pupils, so that they are confident that going to work does not pose a health risk to them or their families.

All the national governments are looking at various scenarios to prepare for opening schools to more pupils.   In all cases, this is likely to include a phased approach.

Voice's position

The health, safety, and wellbeing of all those in schools and nurseries must be paramount if the risk of a second wave of infection is to be avoided.  There is no one-size-fits all. 

Safety first and foremost

Any decision to open schools and/or nurseries to more pupils must be based on:

  1. Robust scientific evidence that clearly states it is safe for staff and pupils, and which:
  • gives staff and parents confidence in the decision;
  • clearly states the ongoing reduction of transmission of the virus and;
  • the role of children and young people in the transmission of the virus; and
  • is based on health and welfare need and not economic need. 


  1. Testing of staff and their families which is
  • regular and freely available, not only when a case is suspected; and
  • tracking of tracing following diagnosis.


  1. Availability of guidance on strategies in advance of wider opening to include to include:
  • risk assessment;
  • provision of soap and antibacterial gel;
  • provision and use of PPE;
  • practicalities of social distancing;
  • timetabling; and
  • action following confirmation of diagnosis in schools.


  1. Availability of sufficient staff and services to support wider opening which takes account of:
  • protection of vulnerable staff or those living with others who are at risk;
  • availability of support services such as cleaning and school meal services; and
  • transport and travel to work.


Further information for Voice members

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Media speculation about schools ‘reopening’ premature, unrealistic and causing anxiety (blog)



This list is all well and good but going into school on rota and much of this is NOT available. No PPE. No anti bac. Etc whilst it is easier to social distance due to small student numbers very little of this is in place. Why are staff expected to attend now with insufficient safety procedures?

My question is also how the workload will be shared if some staff are still shielding and not returning to work when reopen but others are? Again rota over partial closure has seen some staff unable to attend so those that can have to do so more frequently.

My head has now instructed that all staff are to return back to work next week even though currently we only have 24 vunerable and key worker children Attending regularly and we have been working in teams of 6 staff one or two days a week for the past 6 weeks. we are being asked to work in class with the pupils in our class (Currently I have one some times 2. child in my year Group) and we are to teach virtually through the internet. Can he ask for us to return back to work next week? When the PM announced that we should work from home if we can.

Voice comments on Government guidance on wider opening of education and childcare settings:  “We will be raising these concerns with ministers and officials at the earliest opportunity. We will also be surveying our members so that we can take their concerns to government too."


I am SEN TA in Reception. My concern is the fact no one is addressing spread of virus to staff. We keep hearing that kids have 0 to mild symtoms and low spread to other children. But it is always avoided when anyone in charge is asked about the spread to adults. I have now seen numerous interviews with scientists (even SAGE) who have confirmed children spread to adults. They regard it as a “small risk, but can’t prove that”, but it is a risk everyday! We are told PPE (such as face coverings) are not “nice” for the little ones to see on staff, but I want to be able to feel a bit more comforted by using such measures in this environment. There is no way to social distance with Reception, and especially for me on 1-1 with a child who spits on me and bites regularly. I have 3 children at home, 1 autistic and I haven’t even been sending them to schools as “keyworkers kids” as I don’t want them spreading anything...plus not sending my 12 year old out on public transport alone in these times. I know that is my choice.....but we need clarification re spread of children to adults! My kids can’t see their grandparents, I can’t see my parents.....but it is ok for me to have other kids from the community without social distancing.

Thank you for your comments. Voice members can access our FAQs here: www.voicetheunion.org.uk/help-and-advice/coronavirus-covid-19/covid-19-faqs and can contact us to discuss their concerns: www.voicetheunion.org.uk/contact-us

Just a Thank you for update an to confirm I would like to receive emails. This was the first and obviously a lot of meetings/talk from other Unions In my setting. Are we then all Unions on the ‘same page’ with regards to guidance/strategies from Government and Local Authorities before schools can undertake steps forward?

If you need to confirm that you would like to receive emails, please email marketing@voicetheunion.org.uk with your details.

Our latest update and letter to Education Secretary: www.voicetheunion.org.uk/news-media-issues/important-update-members-abou...

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