Government's decision for return of all schools from March 8 is a political move, says officer for East Midlands National Education Union
Schools should have a phased return but are not going to because the government has issues with its back-benchers, says a senior officer of the National Education Union.
Senior officer for the East Midlands and Nottingham City councillor Nick Raine said the government had used teachers as a kicking board since the pandemic began, while most of the country gained huge respect for the work they do.
Of the announcement all schools will return from March 8, he said: "The government did not consult with us and haven't in the past.
"We wanted a phased return and that's what the science says but obviously the government are not going with that. It's political.
"We are desperate to get back to school, particularly for the young people. A lot of our members have been teaching throughout this and they really want to get back.
"But, we don't want to go into another lockdown."
Mr Raine said SAGE evidence for February showed re-opening schools would increase the r-rate in the community between 40 and 60%.
"We've had members that have been ill and tragically died, but we've also had stories of relatives dying and being hospitalised," he said.
"The sensible thing to do would be a phased return, then look at how it's going and review it — rather than crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.
"Social distancing in schools is another thing that is just not happening, it's impossible.
"I suppose it's better of the government to give two weeks notice, whereas last time people got just a few days."
Mr Raine said since last summer teachers had been pressing the government to provide the necessary home-learning technology for vulnerable children.
"We are worried about the children," he said. "There are people out there who don't have the right equipment, or even internet access.
"We've been saying these things would be needed — and the government just hasn't provided them.
"We've even put things online about how to access school work through the Xbox."
On going forward, Mr Raine said he would like to see more respect shown towards teachers by the government.
"We need to look at each town and each setting, with the government listening to teachers.
"Most of our members are women who also have children at home at the moment — and you see in the national press people attacking teaching staff.
"Saying they are lazy, don't want to come back etc, and it's just completely unacceptable."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "Some people will say we are going to be going too fast, some people will say we're going too slow.
"I think the balance is right, I think it's a cautious but an irreversible approach which is what I think people want to see.
"And the reason for the gap is it gives us time to look at the impact of each of the changes, each of the relaxations, the opening ups that we're doing.
"Getting kids back into school — massively important for the country — we need time to assess what that does to the disease, the prevalence of covid."