The Scottish Greens have announced a push for the recruitment of 2,000 more teachers – on top of a Scottish Government commitment to hire 1,400.
Ross Greer, the party’s education spokesman, has tabled a motion for debate on Wednesday.
It further urges the Scottish Government to introduce voluntary mass testing for staff and senior pupils and better support for those who are deemed to be vulnerable to coronavirus.
In August, the general secretary of the EIS teaching union, Larry Flanagan, urged the First Minister to recruit 3,500 staff to allow for smaller class sizes.
At the time, Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government would “continue to talk to teachers, parents and the young people’s representatives as we go through this to make sure we are doing what is necessary”.
As of November 10, figures show 1,559 teachers have been absent from school for coronavirus-related reasons, along with almost 30,000 pupils.
For the motion to pass on Wednesday, the Greens will likely need full support from all other opposition parties at Holyrood.
Ahead of the debate, Mr Greer said: “For many teachers, support staff and their families, the return to full-time schooling has been extremely stressful, particularly since the second wave of the virus began.
“The very least our school staff deserve is to feel safe at work.
“Instead, they are being made to feel expendable.”
The motion also raises letters received by teachers from councils telling them to turn off the Protect Scotland app, which conducts contact tracing for the NHS.
Mr Greer added: “No-one wants to disrupt the education of our young people more than it already has been but this isn’t a choice between education and safety.
“If we don’t take these steps, like recruiting additional staff and making testing more widely available, greater disruption and even school closures will be inevitable.”
A Scottish Goverment spokesman said: “Being in school is in the best interests of children and our priority remains to ensure schools are safe, open and welcoming.
“That is why we have put in place robust measures – developed with input from our Education Recovery Group, which includes union representatives – to help us to protect our school community.
“The rise in overall Covid-related absences has been very substantially driven by pupils who are isolating, which demonstrates that caution is being applied where we know there are enhanced risks of transmission.
“We are keeping the way guidance is being implemented in schools under close review, along with emerging scientific evidence, and the Health and Safety Executive provided very positive feedback on the way schools are implementing that guidance.
“Where there is a need to take further action, either by updating our guidance or ensuring it is being given practical effect, we will work with teachers, parents, trades unions, local authorities and young people’s representatives to do so.
“We also recently announced more than 1,250 new teachers and 155 support staff have already been recruited as a result of £80 million of support announced in the summer.”
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