GLASGOW’S director of education has apologised to teachers for any distress caused after accusing them of failing to social distance and spreading coronavirus among schools.

A letter issued by Maureen McKenna last week said that a "ridiculous number of teachers and support staff" were being sent home to self-isolate with staff rooms and meetings at the centre of the adult-to-adult spread of the virus.

Parents from Glasgow schools told the Times that it is a very worrying time and urged everyone including teachers to follow the rules put in place by the Scottish Government.

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One mum said: “Any inference of teachers not following correct guidance only adds to that anxiety.

“If teachers are not doing their bit to stop the spread of the virus then they should be held accountable for that however making baseless accusations is unfair both on the teachers and the families of school pupils.”

“I would expect councillors with any responsibility for education to be investigating these remarks as a matter of urgency.”

But Ms McKenna has been criticised by school staff and the teaching union EIS who said the tone of the letter did little to display concern for staff who are working hard to deliver education during these trying times.

One teacher, who did not want to be named, said: “We are not only dealing with new practical, physical restrictions which have to be enforced - one way systems, cleaning procedures every class, wearing of masks , we are dealing with the transition back to school.

“For many students, lockdown allowed young people a certain freedom away from teacher and peer expectation- they have had to get back into a routine as well as dealing with the expectation to catch up. Add to this, a feeling of uncertainty about what the year will bring, and the worry of gathering evidence for the demands of SQA."

The trade union pointed out that staff morale is low, and everyone is anxious. They said that there would inevitably be an increase in the number of teaching and school staff impacted with Glasgow in lockdown and infection levels rising in the community.

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Susan Quinn, secretary of Glasgow EIS Local Association, said: “Following a number of concerns raised by members, Glasgow EIS Local Association contacted the director of education regarding the content and tone of last week’s communication to schools.

“There was an open and honest discussion, with agreement reached on the importance of maintaining positive working relationships within Glasgow Council.

“It is essential that teachers are able to raise concerns at school level, where they feel that sufficient safeguards are not in place in line with the risk assessment process. Protecting the health and wellbeing of pupils, staff and the wider community remains a top priority for the EIS, and we will continue to work constructively with Glasgow City Council to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to make our schools safe places to learn and to work.”

Ms McKenna wrote to the EIS apologising for any distress the email caused.

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A City Council spokeswoman said: “Our executive director of education never has an issue with saying sorry – the apology was for any distress caused – it was not an apology for the content.

“We value the trusted partnership that the council has with the EIS and it was agreed that the apology for any distress caused was shared with union reps to illustrate the open and transparent relationship.

“The email in question was sent at the end of a very challenging week which saw a number of examples where school staff were having to self-isolate because they had not followed national guidance on physical distancing with their colleagues. In these cases, few, if any pupils needed to self-isolate so the staff absences impacted directly on our children’s learning.

“This exasperation is evident in the tone of the email and that’s what Maureen’s apologised to the EIS for.

“We will do everything in our power to minimise any further disruption to our children and young people’s education and by all working together and following the current advice and guidance, we will achieve this.”