NEU NI issue January guidance for NEU members in educational settings in Northern Ireland, along with a Model Letter which members may choose to send to their Principal.

Please read the guidance carefully.

We would like as many members as possible to use the letter. 

The aim is for schools, immediately, to move to revise risk assessments in meaningful collaboration with teachers and staff to effect real change now (i.e. before moving to remote learning as envisaged by the DE guidance).

The change we seek to effect will be in relation to:

  • a review of all risk assessments in the light of the much higher transmission of the new variant;
  • much lower class sizes, effectively leading to rotational learning systems
  • social distancing of 2 metres between pupils in all schools and colleges to replace the current practice of cohort-distancing which allows whole year groups to mix without any social distancing;
  • protective bubbles of no more than 8 pupils;
  • masks to be worn by pupils and staff in secondary school classrooms and colleges;
  • school, college and early-years settings staff to be made a top priority for vaccination - along with health care staff and starting with the most vulnerable; and
  • until vaccinated, Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) staff and women in the third trimester of pregnancy to work from home, supporting students who are at home.

We believe that most Principals will welcome the opportunity to discuss safe workplaces and safe practices openly and collaboratively with their staff, particularly in the light of the new and aggressive variant of Covid-19 at large. We know this from discussion with the representative bodies of Principals and leaders and their public statements in recent days.

It is with great regret that NEU have sought to take this step.

Our education services should not be as politically contested as they plainly are.

Given that “the science” is clearly having to bend to political will, at a time when the spread of the virus is accelerating and dangerous, it is beholden on us as your union to encourage you to exercise your individual rights at this time.