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Teaching unions call for young adults to be vaccinated and safety measures to continue

TEACHING unions have called for young adults to be vaccinated and safety measures to continue, warning that a cautious approach to school returns must be taken in Scotland.

Top trade unionists said that a voluntary vaccination scheme for secondary school pupils would be a “sensible” measure that could go “some way towards making schools safer places.”

Union leaders raised the issue as the Scottish Government confirmed updated advice from experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), with all 16 and 17-year-olds now eligible for a vaccine.

Previously, only those 12 to 17-year-olds with underlying health conditions had been offered vaccination.

With youngsters returning to school later this month, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) assistant secretary David Belsey said that the completion of the vaccination programme for all school staff was vital.

His comments coincided with Ms Sturgeon confirming that secondary school pupils and teachers will continue to be required to wear face masks inside schools, practise social distancing and take regular tests. 

She said the self-isolation regime would be changed so that the “blanket isolation of whole classes will no longer be routine.”

The update was welcomed by unions, with Mr Belsey saying schools would reopen with “broadly the same mitigations in place as when they closed earlier this year.”

He added: “The six-week period of no changes to mitigations will provide a degree of reassurance to school staff and some certainty as to what to expect when returning to classrooms.”

NASUWT general secretary Patrick Roach said his union believed that the removal of all measures within schools would have been “premature.”

He added: “No-one wants to see a further wave of infections when schools reopen for the autumn term and it is essential that a cautious approach continues to be followed.”

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