Aug 082020

By Suzanne Kelly.

Aberdeen City Council yesterday admitted that it has not finalised revising risk assessments for next week’s school openings and have refused to release the assessments to Aberdeen Voice.
Students are due to return to school despite a new lockdown in Aberdeen City Centre in response to the recent Covid-19 outbreak.

The City told Aberdeen Voice the school risk assessments were being revised.

With days to go before schools open, Aberdeen Voice asked for sight of the assessments; a city council spokesperson said:

“These are internal documents which we would not routinely share with the media. You can of course submit an FOI request.”

Aberdeen Voice replied it had never received a freedom of information request response from the city in less than 25 days – clearly too late for concerned parents

The City pointed Aberdeen Voice to its website when we first asked about safety for students, teachers and everyone connected to schools. The website lacks any specific provision details – but does say that distance learning has virtually been ruled out:  and parents must send children to school.

Additionally, on the Aberdeen City Council website, it says that risk assessments have been done. 

However earlier today ACC told Aberdeen Voice: 

“These will be discussed and agreed with all staff at the beginning of next week and before children return.  This is in keeping with the best practice advised in the national guidance. The risk assessments are informing the information that is being shared with families.” 

How the city can claim the assessments are done when they are now being redone, and claim ‘the information that is being shared with families’ but will not release the assessments to the general public is unclear.

The TUC is one of many organisations to publish its Covid-19 risk assessment; its website reads:

“UK law says every employer with more than five staff must produce a risk assessment. And new government guidance for the return to work after the coronavirus pandemic says that these risk assessments should be published on employers’ own websites.”

One school proud of its risk assessment that has published it to its website is Blackheath; it can be seen here: 

Parents and teachers throughout the UK are concerned at safety and according to The Scotsman only 1 in 5 teachers are confident about returning to the classroom.

The myth that children are ‘nearly immune’ to Covid-19 has been dispelled; they are not only efficient carriers who can transmit the virus to others, but when infected themselves, they may be prone to syndromes including multisystem inflammatory syndrome and Kawasaki syndrome.

Aberdeen Voice also awaits comment from Aberdeenshire council and Unison.  We are happy to continue receiving information and questions from parents, teachers and health professionals who alerted us to the situation.

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  4 Responses to “City Keep Schools Covid-19 Risk Assessments Secret”

  1. I think that you need to reconsider the school going back until the outbreak has settled! Numbers are rising and the safety of the children and teachers has to be paramount! Blended learning to see the numbers of if there will be a further rise by putting schools back or home school until it’s safe! My children are your guinea pigs.

  2. Suzanne here, I’ve been sent this anonymous comment; anyone from the Shire, which has not responded yet on risk assessments care to comment?: “…Academy in Peterhead, whole sections of the school would be unfit for use as lacking ventilation – windows jammed shut for years – awaiting demolition & replacement in coming 5 years, how could it possibly pass a risk assessment, and any remedial work couldn’t be completed within a few hours of opening”

  3. Suzanne with an update: 1. Aberdeen City Council is debating with me on twitter, pointing to its FAQ document which says the Risk Assessments are done – they are not. But this just in from Unison – they are happy for this to be shared: “UNISON believes that support staff across Aberdeenshire are very concerned about the reopening of schools.

    Ann Gray Branch, Assistant Branch Secretary, said “We have had Pupil Support Assistants.,School Administrators, technicians , Cleaners and Caretakers raising concerns on a weekly basis .They are receiving inadequate information from their individual schools. They are all clear pupils education and wellbeing is foremost in their thoughts however staff must be assured that schools will be safe for their return and sadly at this time staff do not have this reassurance.”

    Karen Davidson, UNISON Organiser, said “We have been meeting online weekly throughout the holidays with our members to seek answers to their concerns. Over 50 members have undertaken UNISON Health and Safety training to try and be prepared for assisting with risk assessments for the safe reopening of schools .””

  4. When the Scottish Government announced full opening of the schools (without even face coverings in secondary schools) they said that one of the conditions was “infection rates must be at a level that is sufficiently low to provide assurance that we can continue to control the virus” ( Clearly, this is right now the case in many parts of Scotland, but not in Aberdeen. Germany has set a level of 50 infections per week out of 100,000 people as triggering a lockdown. In Aberdeen, the figure is currently 64 in 100,000 – it is high by any standards. I don’t see how anything other than blended learning can be safe until and unless the infection rate has been brought down.

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