Barnsley NEU Branch
Subject: Coronavirus and the impact on schools
The situation with Coronavirus is changing rapidly and so is the advice from government, medical experts and other bodies including the NEU and other unions. The NEU has published advice and guidance on the website and this will be updated as when necessary.
At the moment there are no plans for schools to close, but this may change. We understand that schools will be preparing for this.
The purpose of this briefing is to members with some guidance on some questions we have been asked and matters that should be discussed in school.
Some of these things may be happening in your school already, but we suggest that you call a meeting and seek reassurances from your headteacher.
·SELF-ISOLATION: Government advice is that anyone who develops a persistent cough or fever should self-isolate for a period of seven days. Where this happens it should not be treated as sickness absence and the member of staff should continue to receive full pay. You do not need a GP certificate to cover this period of isolation. Staff who are self-isolating, may be asked to do work at home if possible.
·CORONAVIRUS: Where a member of staff does contract Coronavirus their absence should be recorded as sickness. However, their absence for this reason should not be counted as part of the trigger for sickness monitoring or review meetings.
·PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITIONS: We advise that colleagues with pre-existing medical conditions seek advice from their GP and if advised to stay off work this should be confirmed in writing.
·RISK ASSESSMENTS: We advise that schools should carry out risk assessments forvulnerable staff including those with disabilities, staff who are pregnant or who are immunocompromised (such as anyone undergoing treatment for cancer, HIV+ etc).
·AGENCY STAFF: The NEU has issued advice for agency staff who are unable to work. We believe that staff who are on long-term placement with a school should continue to be paid.
·DIRECTED TIME: We advise Reps to ask heads for a review of Directed Time activities such as parents meetings, school trips. Are these absolutely necessary? Can they be organised in another way?
·LEAVE OF ABSENCE: We believe that the current arrangements for taking time off to care for a sick dependent should be relaxed to take account of the current crisis.
·EXAMS: Exam boards are monitoring the situation and preparing for contingencies should there be long-term school closures. Ofqual have already produced initial guidance and the NEU will engage with exam authorities through this process.
·COVER: Cover policies should not be changed in the light of this crisis. NEU does not support doubling up of classes and where this is being suggested you should contact us for advice.
·HYGIENE: we think there should be a review of cleaning routines, particularly in respect of handles and switches. All toilet and washing facilities should contain sufficient soap and water to allow users to wash their hands, which can help eliminate or reduce the risk of the virus spreading.
·ACTION PLANS: If staff absence reaches a level where the safe management of the school cannot be maintained, plans must be in place about minimum staffing and when it would be necessary to send a number of students home or close the school following NHS England guidance protocols as advised by the government.
·This situation is changing rapidly, please log onto the NEU guidance page and NHS England for the must up to date advice.
Check out the link below for all current guidance on how to keep yourself safe during this very difficult time.