Scots teachers could take industrial action if areas they are working in are considered the highest risk in the Covid tier system.

The EIS, Scotland's biggest teaching union says it believes that if areas are put into Level 4 restrictions, the toughest to be set, schools should start remote learning.

Schools across Scotland were reopened by August 18 after the Scottish Government's previous plans for blended learning, with pupils learning at home for part of the school week, receiving an angry reaction from some parents and opposition politicians.

EIS has introduced a survey to get the views of teachers working under lockdown restrictions, and it includes being quizzed on members willingness or otherwise to support industrial action in response to a refusal to implement a move to blended or remote learning at Level 4.

READ MORE: Concerns over Scots school social distancing as pupil absences due to Covid treble in 12 days

It is feared as as many as 12 Scots council areas could be placed under the tough Level 4 restrictions in a bid to halt the spread of the virus on Tuesday And it’s been indicated that the new virus curbs would remain in place for a fortnight - coming into effect from 6am on Friday.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said that their key concern was over whether schools remain open in the areas that are moved into Level 4.


He said: "Glasgow has 90 out of the top 100 covid infection hot spots - so in schools in those catchment areas, we think you have to look seriously at closing them as part of the community mitigation to drive down infection levels.

"We have asked the Scottish Government that, if a local authority goes into level four, there should be a meeting to look at the data around each individual school to make decisions based on risk."

The EIS has previously pointed to the fact that almost 30,000 pupils were absent from school on November 10 for Covid-related reasons – while 1,559 teachers were also absent in relation to coronavirus – an 18 per cent increase from the previous week’s figure of 1,326.

Mr Flanagan told the BBC: "Our default position is we should be looking at remote learning at level four, but given the Scottish Parliament has voted against that, we want at the very least to look at individual schools to see what action should be taken."

Last week the Herald revealed that the number of pupils absent from school in Scotland because of the coronavirus had nearly trebled since the October holiday as teachers' representatives warned that there is a lack of effective physical distancing.

On November 7, it emerged that since the October holiday, in the space of 12 days the numbers soared from 8,295 to 23,511.

Both the Scottish and UK governments are determined to keep schools open despite a surge of deaths and cases in a second wave of the virus.

But unions have said that school closures must remain on the agenda and say "much more" needs to be done to keep teachers and pupils safe whilst schools remain open fully.

But one parents campaign group has said schools should remain open even in areas which are moved to the most severe level of restrictions.

UsForThem Scotland, which now has almost 12,000 members, said the vast majority of children sent home to isolate didn’t develop any Covid-19 symptoms.

They said healthy children should be able to stay in school, with only those unwell being asked to stay away.

A poll of 1000 parents conducted by UsForThem Scotland showed most children had not been required to self-isolate since schools returned in August.

But 191 parents said their child had been sent home and never developed symptoms, while only four did.

The research showed a further nine pupils had developed symptoms while in schools and had self-isolated as a result.

Jo Bisset, organiser for UsForThem Scotland, said: “The EIS and certain politicians are pointing to increased absences – but the vast majority of these cases feature healthy children who should still be in school.

“It’s an entirely manufactured picture, and the Scottish Government should stick to its word and keep schools open as normal, even in tier four council areas.

“We know there are influential groups who’ve wanted schools shut right from the start, and now strike action is being used as another tactic to force this through.

“All of this serves to damage the wellbeing and prospects of children. Schools are and should be considered critical infrastructure.

“Blended learning was, at best, a farce. For many in the poorest areas, it cast children adrift from an education system which they’re now unlikely to catch up with.

“How anyone can think this is good for society, the attainment gap or mental health is an absolute mystery.

“Our research shows most children who are told to isolate have nothing wrong with them and should be at school and getting on with their lives.

“It doesn’t have to be complex: send the children with symptoms home to recover, and allow the healthy ones to continue their schooling.”