Coronavirus: Four out of five teachers worldwide think it’s not yet safe to return to schools

Educators give withering assessment of governments’ responses to pandemic

epa08446478 Students eat lunch while separated by opaque partitions at the cafeteria of the Daejeon Seonyucho Elementary School in Daejeon, South Korea, 27 May 2020. Kindergarteners, older elementary school pupils, middle school seniors and sophomore high school students  across South Korea returned to school on 27 May after a spate of delays due to safety concerns over the ongoing pandemic of the COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.  EPA/YONHAP SOUTH KOREA OUT
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Four out of five teachers around the globe believe it is not yet safe to return to the classroom because of the coronavirus pandemic, a poll carried out by one of the world’s largest education conferences showed.

Global educators were also asked to rate their governments’ responses to the outbreak, with more than half giving their leaders a D grade or worse.

The research was undertaken by the organisers of the forthcoming T4 conference, a free online gathering to enable teachers to discuss the effects of the pandemic on world education.

Of the more than 4,000 teachers from 33 countries who responded to the questions, only 8 per cent awarded their governments an A for their handling of the crisis.
Not a single teacher from the United Kingdom, which is suffering from Europe's worst outbreak of Covid-19, awarded Prime Minister Boris Johnson the top mark.

Teachers were primarily concerned with student welfare, the research showed. Around 40 per cent cited concern over health risks to pupils and their families as a cause for concern, compared to 35 per cent expressing concern over their own safety.

Assessing the impact that the pandemic has already had on education, roughly one quarter of respondents said they were concerned there was a risk of pupils falling behind.

Measures imposed by governments around the world to limit the spread of the virus have seen schools shut, exams postponed and millions of pupils adopt home-schooling arrangements.

Although schools in some countries, such as South Korea and the United States, have begun to reopen, the United Nations estimates that about 1.3 billion children have been kept out of school by the pandemic.

“For the first time in recent history, we have a common phenomenon that has impacted the way we all live and work,” said the T4 host, Vikas Pota.

“As difficult as this has been, it provides us with a real opportunity to share and learn and progress together.”

The T4 conference, which is scheduled for May 30, was originally intended as a platform for informal ideas-sharing between teaching colleagues.

More than 50,000 teachers from 67 countries are now expected to come together in what could become the world’s largest teaching conference.