Home‎ > ‎

Latest Advice for Camden members on COVID-19

posted 17 Mar 2020, 04:13 by Gerald Clark   [ updated 19 Mar 2020, 05:24 ]
Please find our advice for members, published on 17th March, here.  The updated version is below.  Please contact us if you have specific questions or speak to your school rep about the situation in your school.

This was updated on Thursday 19th March at 12:30pm

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.

NEU Joint General Secretaries, Kevin Courtney and Mary Bousted, wrote to the Prime Minister on Saturday to ask for his rational for not closing schools.  When schools are closed in many other parts of the world, including Ireland and Scotland, why are they not here?  After receiving no response, they wrote again to him on 17th March. On the 18th March, the government confirmed that schools would be closed from Friday.

The purpose of this briefing is to provide Reps and 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 lives on their own who develops a persistent dry cough or fever should self-isolate for a period of seven days before returning to their normal routine (as long as their symptoms have cleared up).  If they live with others then everyone else who lives in the same house should self-isolate for 14 days from the first day of the ill person's symptoms  After 14 days if no-one is showing any symptoms they should all go back to their normal routine. 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 for vulnerable 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 swtiches. 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.

 Working from Home

Citizens have been advised to work from home where possible.  Clearly its not straightforward for teachers to work from home, but if schools are closed then teachers can probably work remotely planning and setting work.  Any possibility for doing so should be explored in your workplace.

The Impact in your school.

Every school in Camden has slightly different circumstances.  Some have many staff out and many students out, some are functioning fairly normally.  If you’re being asked to cover and don’t think you should, or being asked to teach abnormally large classes, then please let your school rep know.

We at Camden NEU will be keeping in touch with our Reps to help advise them on the way forward in your school.  It’s difficult for us to answer individual questions.

This situation is changing rapidly and we will attempt to keep you updated with current advice. Please do not hesitate to contact the NEU if you need any advice or guidance.

Gerald Clark,
17 Mar 2020, 04:13