15th September 2020

Environment Coronavirus: Some schools warned to use hand gel ‘sparingly’

Environment Coronavirus: Some schools warned to use hand gel ‘sparingly’


environment Pupils returning to schoolImage copyright
PA Media

Some schools have been urged to use hand sanitising gel “more sparingly”, BBC Scotland has learned.

Schools have put strict hygiene measures in place since they reopened a fortnight ago.

BBC Scotland also spoke to one head teacher who claimed their school had to meet the cost of extra supplies from its own budget.

Unions say costs linked to protection from Covid must not come from the education budget.

Schools across Scotland have introduced a number of measures to try to protect staff and students.

These include hand sanitisers and extra cleaning.

Generally these costs are being met by councils centrally so are not placing a financial burden on schools or education budgets directly.

But this has not always happened straight away.

Environment Extra costs

One head teacher at a school in the west of Scotland said the costs of basic protection were having to be met from their school’s own budget.

They said their school was facing additional costs of about £20,000 – these included sanitising gel, toilet paper and masks.

This could, they claimed, lead to less being spent on educational resources or supply cover.

Separately, BBC Scotland has also heard of cases where schools have gone through more hand sanitiser than anticipated. In some cases schools may have had to order more.

One teacher said they knew of cases where schools had been urged to be more sparing in the use of hand sanitiser.

Image caption

Schools have extra measures in place to control infection

They said: “Our school has bought some things ourselves – PPE and the like – but hand sanitiser is paid for centrally. Though I have heard of a school where a teacher was told to be more sparing. But who knows the context of that? We were told to be more sparing too but that was because some rooms were being so heavily sprayed it was making people cough.”

Jim Thewliss of School Leaders Scotland, which represents senior school staff, said he was aware there were cases which “were not happening as they should be happening”.

“There’s an obligation on local government and on the Scottish government to make sure that schools are funded to deliver a safe environment and deliver an environment in which education takes place effectively and efficiently,” he said.

“We’re in a position at the moment of being under extreme pressure and there is a varied picture across the country in the way in which obligations are being carried out.

“We’re aware there are local authorities where the level of support is consistent with the demand that’s being made. There are others where discussions are ongoing.”

Mr Thewliss also said he was getting “feedback on the supply chain not delivering enough on time”.

Environment ‘Support schools’

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS teachers’ union, said it would be “unacceptable” for schools to have to divert money intended for educational expenditure into measures such as hand sanitisers in classrooms.

He added: “The Scottish government has made finance available for local authorities to support such provision and this must be used to support schools.”

Most Scottish councils – including those covering the four main cities – have confirmed to BBC Scotland that the cost of hand sanitising gel and additional cleaning was being met out of their central budget.

This means the cost does not fall to individual schools or have any direct implications for the education budget.

The Scottish government has given councils more money to help them meet costs linked to the pandemic.


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