Teachers balloted amid Covid unrest

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Teachers in Argyll and Bute are being balloted over whether to formally declare a dispute with the council over remote learning – which could take them closer to industrial action.

The union says it took the action after the council rejected a request to move teaching and learning to remote online platforms for before and after Christmas in order to minimise Covid-19 infection risk.

A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Council said: ‘We understand that the EIS has been engaged with the Scottish Government, requesting the extension of the Christmas/New Year holiday period for schools and that the depute first minister has confirmed no such action would be taken at a national level.

‘We further understand the government’s decision is based on all relevant guidance/advice, including from Public Health.

‘The safety and wellbeing of our teachers and young people is our top priority. We follow the same national guidance for schools and, at the moment, the guidance is that schools should remain open to pupils.

‘We also work very closely with our public health colleagues in taking action to look after our teachers and pupils while they are at school and, thanks to combined efforts across our communities, Argyll and Bute is in one of the lowest restriction levels.

‘Our teachers are doing a great job in what we know are difficult circumstances.

‘We will continue to work with Public Health to support their day-to-day wellbeing and we will remain in contact with the Scottish Government so that if guidance changes, we can adapt how we work as required.’

If a dispute is declared, the EIS may hold a further consultative ballot on industrial action.