The Minister for Education in Wales last week announced that all schools should open more widely from 29 June, allowing all pupils to return to school on a phased basis alongside vulnerable and key worker pupils.
The National Education Union Cymru (NEU Cymru) did not agree that schools should reopen on 29 June. We are concerned that the Welsh Government is doing too much, too soon and has ignored scientific evidence. And we are worried about the implications of a wider school opening for school staff, particularly vulnerable staff, children and communities.
Whenever your school is planning to return, NEU Cymru is there with you, to ensure the safest possible school reopening.
An NEU Cymru checklist must be completed before school wider opening. If you do not have a rep in your school, please volunteer to meet your head and go through the checklist. We can support you to do this and you will have the authority of the NEU behind you, ensuring a safer return to school for you, your colleagues and the children.
The NEU has issued advice for vulnerable staff. We do not think that vulnerable staff, or those living with vulnerable relatives, should be working in school. Please use the checklist to assess your situation and the NEU letter if you need to inform your school leader that you think it unsafe to be working in school.
The greater risk posed to Black* people from Covid-19 is well known. The NEU thinks that black employees should be protected in the same way as other staff who are clinically vulnerable. Black staff should also use this letter.
If you consider working on the school site to present a serious and imminent danger to yourself and others (pupils, parents, carers, their families and the wider community) – because you believe the risk assessment is deficient, our checklist reveals problems or because vulnerable staff or staff who live with vulnerable people are being required to attend school – then you should:
- co-sign a letter to the head stating why you feel in danger and share that with your rep or
- download a copy of this letter. Section 3 enables you to state your direct circumstances.
Then send the letter to your head.
- send copies of these letters to your branch secretary.
If you experience any problems after sending these letters, or have any further questions about what you should do next, contact your rep, your branch secretary, Wales office or, if necessary, the NEU Adviceline for further help and support.
The law protects you from detriment if you refuse to attend a place of work (or leave your place of work) that you have reasonable grounds to consider to be unsafe and to pose a serious and imminent danger to yourself and others.
The NEU will fully support any member who exercises this right and defend them from any detriment.
*Note: The NEU uses the term Black as a political and inclusive term of unity to signify the anti-racist organising all people of colour – African, African Caribbean, Asian and all those that face racism as a result of the colour of their skin.