It follows a longer statement addressed to the secretary of state for education on Friday (8 May), which fully detailed the principles and tests necessary for the safe reopening of schools. In this situation there is no expectation that active teaching takes place. Please contact your local UNISON branch to discuss your concerns. In addition, individuals shouldn’t have to work where they reasonably believe that they (or others) face serious and imminent danger. Unison, GMB and NASUWT have also all called for the reopening of all schools to be postponed. Early years settings in Northern Ireland and Scotland have closed to help prevent the spread of the virus, yet the DfE in England has said that it will withdraw funding from any nursery in England that closes, leaving many in an impossible position. Even if you are not covered by Green Book terms and conditions, your employer should observe this agreement during this emergency. Most San Diego County school districts have reopened or plan to reopen in October Education Meanwhile a few South County districts are staying closed for rest of 2020. UNISON is also calling on school employers to require contractors to pay full sick pay and the real Living Wage as a minimum as part of our Clean Schools, Safer Schools campaign. However, changing your hours of work is a change to the terms and conditions that you agreed to when you took the job and must not be done without your consent. Unison members in schools and nurseries throughout Dundee are to meet this week to discuss the implications of schools reopening. ... the National Education Union (NEU), the NASUWT teachers’ union, GMB, Unison and Unite – calls for a move to remote learning for most pupils. This sets out our specific advice for each group so it is important that you read this carefully. No. The pandemic has affected everyone in different ways, and you might need support with anxiety about being in the workplace, stress from juggling caring responsibilities or coping with bereavement or isolation. Your school should review, update and consult you on its risk assessment as new restrictions are announced. Unison head of education Jon Richards said: "The Government must end its bitty, piecemeal approach and act decisively by delaying the start of term for all schools … However UNISON believes that the school meals service is vital and we cannot lose valuable skilled members of staff who will be needed once the pandemic is over. You can also contact Education Support, which offers a free 24/7 helpline with fully trained counsellors on hand to listen. Rather, pupils should carry out a pre-prepared exercise under supervision. In addition following the acknowledgement by government of the risk of airborne transmission, UNISON is calling on schools  to require face coverings to be worn at all times, including in the classroom, by staff and students in secondary schools and by all staff  in primary schools & SEND settings. UNISON is clear that HLTAs should not be expected to lead classes on an indefinite basis, although we are also aware of the importance of protecting the integrity of any classes/bubbles as much as possible in current circumstances. If you are instructed to carry out deep cleaning duties and you are not employed as a cleaner you should make clear to your manager that this is not your role. If your manager continues to insist then contact your local UNISON branch and seek support. For example, closing classrooms to pupils for an afternoon a week and using this time for staff to take PPA and for the school to be deep cleaned. Just now on talkRADIO he stressed that school support staff want to see their school communities back together – but only in a safe way and with a proper plan. Schools are being urged "not to engage with planning" for a return on 1 June, and instead await further advice from education unions. UNISON remains clear that members who work in schools have a right to a safe working environment. (See links at the top of the page for advice in Scotland, Cymru/Wales and Northern Ireland.). Reopening schools could fuel pandemic and put staff at serious risk, unions warn ... (NEU), the NASUWT teachers’ union, GMB, Unison and Unite – calls for a move to remote learning for most pupils. However, Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the government, told Sky News on Monday that ministers should "look very carefully" at the situation surrounding education. Some children and young people feel extremely anxious about coming into school/college in the current climate and should not be required to do so. The $202 billion budget Gov. Risk assessments should decide whether PPE is necessary. But he said the "issue is not the safety of the schools", rather that the "anxiety of the government is any activity" where households mix indoors and spread the disease - including schools. The DfE guidance is confusing and provides too many caveats (i.e. Ministers should step back from 1 June target and put safety first. This must be provided by the employer ensuring it meets the relevant certification requirements, is cleaned and maintained, and staff are trained in its use. 3) Testing, testing, testing! Significantly the government and Public Health England have now admitted the role of airborne transmission, particularly in poorly ventilated places where groups of people spend long periods of time together (this crucial new information is particularly important for schools). More than one in five (23%) support staff say primary schools have operated class sizes bigger than the 15 pupils per group maximum recommended to The Department for Education (DfE) guidance on schools reopening makes a distinction between ‘dedicated school transport; and wider public transport: The advice for passengers on public transport to adopt a social distance of two metres from people outside their household or support bubble (or a ‘one metre plus’s approach where this is not possible) need not apply from the autumn term on dedicated transport. If you have issues with your employer, please raise them with your UNISON rep or local branch for advice and assistance. It follows a longer statement addressed to the secretary of state for education on Friday (8 May), which fully detailed the principles and tests necessary for the safe reopening of schools. Under normal circumstances, schools are required to put additional staff into their timetable to ensure that teaching continues during PPA time. UNISON believes that working from home will also be the safest option for other employees with underlying vulnerabilities or who live with people who are clinically vulnerable. We are also concerned at the potential increased risk to school staff whose roles mean social distancing will be extremely difficult, (if not impossible) for example those supporting pupils with medical needs, or carrying out one-to-ones or group work. Rushed government reopening plans have led to guidelines on ‘safe’ class sizes being ignored by some schools in the East of England, according to a survey published by UNISON today. Rosie Lewis, UNISON schools lead, added: "We’ve assessed the guidance and UNISON is absolutely clear that we cannot support the reopening of schools at the end of June. Six trade unions have released a joint statement on the safe reopening of schools and slammed the government for its “chaotic handling” of the return of children to the classroom for the start of term this January amid the Covid crisis. For example, a child/young person with an EHC Plan may present with underlying health problems that would put them at risk should they be exposed to Covid-19 unnecessarily. The DfE guidance says most staff in education settings don’t need Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) beyond what is required for their normal work and that it is only needed in a small number of cases. UNISON will continue to push the government for the evidence behind their decisions and to make sure that the limited opening of schools is still safe for staff and pupils. “We don’t believe there will be enough cleaning staff to fulfil the mammoth task of keeping schools clean. Rosie Lewis, UNISON schools lead, added: “We’ve assessed the guidance and UNISON is absolutely clear that we cannot support the reopening of schools at the end of June. Please ensure your school has a copy. Schools should reduce bubble sizes to limit spreading the virus. Any redeployments should not be at the expense of supporting pupils with SEND. But we don’t believe this should be necessary and the employer should facilitate your request for flexible working to facilitate your childcare responsibilities. However we are in dialogue with the Department for Education and await updated guidance on these settings, which we will respond to and update members as soon as possible. He added that a statement will be published today. Only children of key workers and vulnerable students should be attending. However, speaking on the BBC, Calum Semple, professor of child health and a member of the government’s own scientific advisory committee said that the decision to keep early years settings was a political one and not one based on scientific advice. UNISON is therefore calling on school employers to require contractors to pay full sick pay and the real Living Wage as a minimum (as part of our Clean Schools, Safer Schools campaign). Schools with a confirmed case of coronavirus can contact DfE’s dedicated schools coronavirus helpline on 0800 046 8687 to seek advice on what action is needed. This includes statutory home to school transport, but may also include some existing or new commercial travel routes, where they carry school pupils only, by public transport services, they mean routes which are also used by the general public, how pupils are grouped together on transport, where possible this should reflect the bubbles that are adopted within school, use of hand sanitiser upon boarding and/or disembarking is to be available, organised queuing and boarding where possible, distancing within vehicles wherever possible, through ventilation, fresh air (from outside the vehicle) is maximised, particularly through opening windows and ceiling vents, that children and young people aged 11 and over use face coverings when travelling on dedicated transport, Review their transport provider’s risk assessment, Make arrangements for supervision of social distancing and measures on face coverings and seating on school transport, Make arrangements for additional cleaning of vehicles. They will be able to advise you of your rights at work under Health and Safety legislation. Primary schools in the Tier 4 areas hardest hit by the new coronavirus variant are due to open on 18 January. Many UNISON members will be entitled to paid dependant leave due to agreements negotiated with their employer, so please seek a copy of any related policy. School Reopening Plan School Schedule Model. UNISON is concerned that DfE advice for September states that bubbles can potentially be as large as entire year groups and that staff can move between classes and year groups. UNISON’s advice is that you should explain your situation to your employer, and we would expect your employer to be reasonable in accommodating your circumstances. The NAHT school leaders' union, NEU, NASUWT, GMB, Unison and Unite want to sit down with the prime minister to "discuss a joint approach" on how learning should continue while the new COVID-19 variant spreads rapidly throughout the country. If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should work from home or stay at home on full pay where you cannot work from home. Please see UNISON’s Cymru/Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland websites at the links above for further information on restrictions in these countries. Also see the government advice on COVID-19: cleaning in non-healthcare settings. One of the main issues across all schools that are still open is the government’s new and wider definition of ‘vulnerable children’ which means in some schools we are seeing larger numbers of pupils attending school than in the first lockdown in March. The advice from the Department for Education states that most, if not all, pupils attending special schools/colleges and alternative provision are classed as vulnerable and should therefore be receiving a face-to-face education, if appropriate. Members who are unhappy with proposals or are aware that their school has not talked to the union should contact their branch. Put protocols in place for drivers/escorts to report to staff if any child is unwell on a journey to school, including isolating other student son the transport, the driver and escort. On the other hand for some children the routine of coming to school may be necessary to meet their needs or they may need access to therapies and resources that are only available at school. UNISON continues to urge employers to take real action to support staff with their mental health. Schools should also follow alerts from the app to self-isolate when directed. The Department for Education (DfE) wants children back in primary schools in a phased reopening starting next month, ... and the public service union Unison, representing school … UNISON Head of Education says beginning of June reopening is unrealistic as safety tests not met. The government has asked schools and childcare providers to provide care for children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home. The arrangements adopted by schools for minimising contact and maintaining social distancing are vital for staff and student safety. We are concerned that the widening of the definition of vulnerable category is being driven by the government’s complete failure to roll out IT equipment to all children in need, despite having 9 months to sort this. Teaching union, NEU has set out five tests which it argues are essential to be met to ensure the safe reopening of schools: 1) Much lower numbers of Covid-19 cases. Just reopening a school for in-person instruction on its own is not going to address the issue of safety,” Newsom said, promising sanctions for schools that don’t follow safety rules. Good employers will recognise the benefits of retaining experienced and committed staff and should consider the childcare needs of all staff when planning for the winter term and beyond. Your employer has a legal obligation to carry out a risk assessment. The Green Book is negotiated by UNISON and the other support staff unions and contains the following clause: “An employee who is prevented from attending work because of contact with infectious disease shall be entitled to receive normal pay. Brighton and Hove City Council has said primary school students should not return until 18 January, except for vulnerable children and those whose parents are key workers. In addition Boris Johnson said during Prime Minister’s Questions on 11 May that he expects employers to be reasonable and take account of employees’ childcare difficulties: “We will count on employers to be reasonable if people can’t go to work because they can’t get the childcare that they need…plainly they are impeded from going to work and they must be defended and protected on that basis”. (AP) - Rural Modoc County in far northeastern Northern California plans to allow the reopening of schools, hair salons, churches, restaurants and the county’s only movie theater on Friday. Unions have claimed that a full reopening of schools in England could put teachers at "serious risk" of falling ill with coronavirus and could "fuel" the pandemic. The joint unions have produced a helpful checklist to help with carrying out risk assessments in a school setting, which you can send to your school to aid them in their planning. Unison will negotiate with providers who are struggling on how they can get the bet from these schemes and save jobs. Ensure only those fully trained and equipped with the relevant protective equipment are involved in any deep clean. Any staff who require it must be trained in its use. By continuing to use our website you are consenting to their use. 4) A whole school strategy. Unions with members in the education sector today (Wednesday) published a joint statement on the safe reopening of schools. UK wide and England-specific updates will be placed on this page. There is also a model letter for you to send to your employer should you need it. All schools should keep supplies of transparent face coverings. Our clear position is that only suitably experienced teaching assistants should be asked to lead classes and then only in situations known about in advance, for example where a teacher is working from home due to being in a vulnerable group, and where another teacher is unavailable. Some schools did not give a definite plan for having their staff regularly tested. A face covering is not considered PPE, as although it may help in reducing the rate of transmission, it does not provide the level of protection necessary to minimise the risk of infection. Many schools are choosing to operate a staggered lunch and/or break service to keep ‘bubbles’ separate and this does show that the school is putting safety of staff and pupils as a high priority when they do this. Cleaners employed to clean the school should be provided with the correct equipment. Primary and secondary schools in England, Scotland and Wales are now closed to most pupils. Schools should consider contingency arrangements for appropriate  cover supervision in their planning. It has been signed by UNISON, AEP, GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, … Under the new lockdown rules all clinically extremely vulnerable employees should now be working from home (or working from home on full pay if their role cannot be done from home). Unison, GMB and NASUWT have also all called for the reopening of all schools to be postponed. Coronavirus Education Staff: Evidence re scrutiny of reopening of schools and ELC settings and associated issues 4 June 2020 Kay Sillars UNISON’s survey of education staff shows the vast majority are anxious about plans for more children to return to schools and nurseries. Terms and conditions. 31 March 2020. The DfE has failed to provide any scientific advice for the different treatment of early years settings. Notify all staff of what is happening and keep them updated on any developments. Schools in Northern Ireland will have an ‘extended period of remote learning’. It is signed by AEP, GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, NSEAD, Prospect, UNISON and Unite. Unison, which represents school support staff and the National Education Union, had told members “not to engage” with school reopening plans until further guidance was issued. are still being paid by the school, so contracted staff should be fully paid. We will notify members by email when new FAQs are added. Many special and AP schools will also have higher numbers of vulnerable children and behaviour issues. Find out more about cookies and how we use them. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that those care homes which offered full contractual sick pay to their staff carried lower risk of infection to their residents. Primary school pupils in Thanet, Canterbury, Dover and Folkestone and Hythe were expected to return on Monday while students in the county's other districts will learn remotely for two weeks. © Copyright 2021 Privacy policy UNISON believe that head teachers and school staff should work closely with parents to establish what is best for the child/young person given the numbers of staff and resources available in the school setting. Yesterday, Education Minister Kirsty Williams, said schools will move to online learning until 18 January but UNISON says there is no way the essential preparatory work to ensure schools are safe to re-open to all pupils could be undertaken by then. Parents at a primary in Yardley, Birmingham, told Sky News correspondent Becky Johnson this morning they have "serious reservations" about the school being open. Meanwhile parents in several Tier 4 areas were confused today as to why their children are being made to return to primary school - when those in London and the South East are shut until later this month due to high case rates. If your employer still refuses, contact your local branch. Unions with members in the education sector are today (Wednesday) publishing a joint statement on the safe reopening of schools. UNISON has received many messages from early years workers expressing their fear and anger at the way they are being treated as somehow less important than other education workers. Fast turnaround testing is vital and it is important that staff, parents and unions are alerted to any positive tests as early as possible to look out for others who might show symptoms. Contact your local UNISON branch immediately if you are required to work without a risk assessment being carried out. We use cookies on our website to ensure you find the information you need in the simplest way. The DfE’s guidance has a section called ‘Prevention’ which specifically deals with this. If your school is not following these measures, please contact your local rep or UNISON branch. To find out more about the five tests go to: Exception; Please contact your school for details. Introduction. All risk assessments should be periodically updated or as and when local and or individual circumstances change. NJC 17 March circular – Coronavirus and working at home, NJC 23 March circular – COVID-19: critical workers. If you have any concerns, contact your local rep or your branch. Nearly a quarter (23%) of support staff say primary schools have operated class sizes bigger than the 15 pupils per group maximum If your mental health has been affected, or if you just want to talk to someone, there are lots of options. Where bubbles/small classes remain, the school must do a risk assessment to ensure that any adjustment to ‘normal’ routine and/or staff moving between classes/bubbles does not increase risks. UNISON urges co-operation over reopening schools UNISON is calling on the government to work with the union urgently, to help ensure that schools can re-open safely in the autumn. Headteachers should be satisfied that the person has the appropriate skills, expertise and experience to carry out the work, and discuss and agree any proposed changes in role or responsibility with the member of staff. Schools should ensure regular cleaning throughout the school day and support cleaning staff including via additional paid hours and hiring additional cleaning staff where necessary. UNISON has issued a joint statement calling for government reassurance that schools will not be completely re-opened until it is safe for staff to return to work. The DfE’s guidance for schools has a specific section on school staff: “Where support staff capacity is available, schools may consider using this to support catch-up provision or targeted interventions. We have produced questions for you to ask your school on test and trace in sections 7, 8 and 9 of the joint union checklist. Rushed government reopening plans have led to guidelines on ‘safe’ class sizes being ignored by some schools, according to a survey published by UNISON today (Friday). Reopening schools could fuel pandemic and put staff at serious risk, unions warn This is different to the advice that the DfE issued in previous lockdowns. Reopening schools while social distancing children will be ‘painstaking’, admits medical chief. Schools should, in accordance with the Health and Safety Executive Committee guidance,  permit staff and pupils to wear face coverings anywhere in the premises in all schools and settings if they wish to do so. by dedicated school transport, they mean services that are used only to carry pupils to school. All children should be educated in the setting that is most appropriate to their needs. To undertake cover supervision, TAs should have skills and knowledge of at least level 3 and be paid at the appropriate grade for this level (see the NJC model job profiles). Find out more about cookies and how we use them. Educational provision is maintained for children during this time away from the classroom e.g. The government’s advice on cleaning in a non-health care setting covers educational settings. The DfE guidance has specific advice on test and trace – see ‘Section 1: Public health advice to minimise coronavirus (COVID-19) risks’ – point 9. 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