“COVID-19: How to make your workplace safe” Zoom meeting

Barnet UNISON as part of our Know Your Rights at Work campaign are hosting a

ZOOM meeting with NEU and GMB entitled:

“COVID-19: How to make your workplace safe”

Wednesday 27 May 6pm

Guest Speaker: Janet Newsham, Chair Hazards Campaign, sitting member of Employment Tribunal for past 25 years.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82640214991?pwd=cW01ZzhtTTJoeStjNWVVcGJSaEhqQT09

Meeting ID: 826 4021 4991

Password: 363400

 

URGENT: All Schools members please follow advice below.

Dear Members

URGENT: Please cut and paste the UNISON email to your Head Teacher immediately and copy in Barnet UNISON using contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

 

Dear head teacher/chair of governors

Government’s plans to increase number of pupils in schools from 1 June

I am writing to say how worried I am about the government’s plans to increase the numbers of pupils in some schools from 1 June and the potential threat they pose to the health and safety of pupils, parents and staff in our school community.

We all want to see schools up and running and our school community back together again, but only when it is safe to do so. Any plan to achieve this needs to be clear on issues such as social distancing, PPE, testing, tracing and isolation. The current government guidance is not.

My union, UNISON, is taking these issues up with government, calling on it to step back from an unsafe increase in pupil numbers on 1 June. Unions and the government need to work together to create the conditions for a safe return to schools, based on the principles and tests set out by education unions representing support staff, teachers and head teachers (see TUC statement).

I don’t believe that the current situation is the fault of the school or its leadership and I understand that the school has to plan for all eventualities. Therefore, my union has advised me to request that you urgently provide an update on the following issues:

  • Copy of school’s risk assessments for increasing pupil numbers
  • What the plans are for maintaining social distancing; with all pupils and staff to be kept 2 metres apart
  • What PPE will be supplied and under what circumstances
  • Arrangements for handwashing and sanitising
  • Arrangements for protecting vulnerable pupils and staff
  • How testing, tracing and isolating will work locally and how it will apply to our schools
  • Arrangements for screening out workers exhibiting symptoms of the virus
  • Plans for enhanced cleaning of workplaces,
  • Procedures for travel such as parking, using public transport, car sharing given the 2-metre rule

I think it is really important that we all stand together to ensure that everyone in the school and community is safe and that we meet health and safety laws. This means that we should only open up the school when is it safe to do so. My union and I do not believe that this is possible by 1 June.

Finally I would like it to be formally noted that my involvement in any meetings and discussions will be on the basis of a sharing of information only, and not my agreement to an unsafe reopening from 1 June.  I would further request that you enter into collective discussion with my union on the measures that need to be taken for a safe increase in pupil numbers, as stated by the DfE. I call on the school not to put pupils and staff at risk with an unsafe increase in numbers from 1 June.

Yours sincerely

 

“How To Reopen Schools Safely” : Barnet Joint Trade Unions zoom meeting

Barnet UNISON is hosting a Barnet Schools Zoom Meeting

Wednesday 20 May at 6 pm.

“How To Reopen Schools Safely”

Speakers: Jon Richards (UNISON), Kevin Courtney (Joint General Secretary NEU) GMLB speaker to be confirmed, NASUWT speaker to be confirmed

Joining details

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86557588815?pwd=WEZGaVVkaks2ZTI5SFppTHNzL04wdz09

Meeting ID: 865 5758 8815

Password: 328320

 

 

12 Key issues of concern for UNISON on re-opening of Schools.

12 Key issues of concern for UNISON

1. The guidance restates the DfE‟s blanket line that scientific evidence “indicates” that school staff do not need PPE – what exactly is the scientific evidence which the DfE referring to? Will they publish this scientific evidence in full?

2. Risk assessments should be carried out for staff as well as for pupils. Local unions and health and safety representatives can add help and expertise to this process and should be fully involved.

3. The onus of the guidance unreasonably places pressure and the risk onto members of staff.

4. It will be impossible to provide the care that some children and young people need without close hands-on contact. Risk assessments need to be carried out and the appropriate PPE supplied in these circumstances.

5. The guidance states PPE is only needed in residential care if pupils develop symptoms. No account is taken of the hazards faced by school staff in terms of spitting, scratching or biting, exposure to other bodily fluids or when performing clinical procedures. 

6. There is no reference to the safe disposal of waste or PPE including masks and gloves.

7. The guidance rightly highlights the paramount necessity of strict hygiene, but does not mention soap or the provision of hand sanitiser. UNISON members have raised concerns about lack of soap and having to bring their own sanitiser to work. UNISON has already raised concerns with the DfE over previous guidance suggesting some cleaning items may be rationed.

8. There is no recognition of the complexity of the issues being faced by schools with vulnerable young people – for instance what about the risk of children attending who live in crowded accommodation either in a hostel, B&B or where a large family are sharing?

9. The guidance recognises that classes should be kept to small sizes but there is no definition of what a small size is. What happens if there is an outbreak and it leads to staff absences? For pupils with SEND there may be a one to one ratio. It is common practice in SEND settings to have 8-10 students to a ratio of 5 staff.

10. The guidance recommends that soft or cuddly toys are not to be shared by students – how is this to be managed in a SEND or early years environment?

11. Social distancing is impossible to fully maintain in schools. There is no reference to the built environments that schools work in. Some schools are small with narrow corridors and passage ways.

12. Any redeployment of staff across special schools will be unsettling for the pupils who are familiar with individual teachers/teaching assistants/ learning support assistants. It could also add to the risk of spreading the virus.

Recommendation  UNISON recommends that the Government’s advice is urgently revised to take full account of the needs of pupils and staff, including realistic expectations of what is achievable. It should also take into account the duty of care that the DfE and schools have to their pupils, staff and the communities in which they operate. Ofsted have identified sufficient risk to issue their inspectors with PPE in order to safely undertake emergency inspections. PPE is vital for staff who are working on the front line – without the undertaking of risk assessments for staff and the appropriate provision of PPE then some schools could be unsafe for staff, pupils and the wider community.

To read full statement click on link below

2020.04.21. UNISON-response-to-DfE-guidance-on-SEND-risk-assessment

Barnet Trade Unions write to the Heads of all Barnet Schools about reopening safely.

The following email was sent to the Head of every Barnet School.

 

“Dear Head,

I hope that you are well and managing to cope under these extraordinary circumstances we all find ourselves in.

We, the Trade Union Leads, are writing to all Heads in response to the ongoing speculation as to when schools may be asked to open up again especially as a vaccine or cure is not likely to available in this calendar year and, therefore, it is likely that we will need to continue social distancing.

Our concerns are both for the children and the staff.

We want to ensure the schools are as safe as possible in terms of dealing with COVID 19.

Our members are very worried about schools re-opening before it is safe.  They have noted that the provision of PPE for NHS workers and Care workers has been a worrying and ongoing issue, being played out on national media on a daily basis. Whilst assurances have been made that supplies of PPE for the staff will be delivered day after day by senior members of the Government it is clear for all to see that this has not happened and it continues to be a serious issue for staff. Furthermore our members have watched with horror when news broke last week that PPE supplies were running out and that sadly Public Health England were revising their guidance down in response to supply rather than the level of risk to the workforce and patients.

It is with this back drop that we want to ensure that when schools open, the school is able to assure staff and parents that the workplace will be a safe place for all.

To this end we are asking all schools what measures they currently have in place in terms of the following:

  • Risk Assessment while open with just for keyworkers’ and vulnerable children
  • Risk Assessment when the school is re-opened
  • The daily cleaning regime.
  • PPE provision
  • Training in the use and disposal of PPE.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any queries or believe we may be able to support your school and staff during this national emergency.

Stay Safe

Regards

Barnet Trade Unions”

 

Barnet UNISON statement:

If you have any questions or concerns email the branch at

contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

You can keep up to date with Barnet UNISON here on our

 

Website here http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/

 

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OUTBREAKS OF COVID-19 IN CARE HOMES: INFECTION CONTROL MEASURES

Barnet UNISON has received a large number of concerns from careworkers who, now, like NHS staff are caring for individuals who have become infected with Coronavirus.

All care settings MUST comply with the advice set out by Public Health England. Please contact us if you are working in a setting where these minimal standards are not being adhered to.

Contact us on 0208 359 2088 (leave a message)

or email us at

contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

if you have any further concerns.

“Droplet precautions, isolation and personal protective equipment (PPE):

  • Care homes are not expected to have dedicated isolation facilities for people living in the home.
  • Isolation precautions should be implemented in the same way care homes operate for influenza.
  • A resident’s own room can be used if isolation is needed, ideally a single bedroom with en-suite.
  • If this is not possible, discuss the option of cohorting with your local PHE health protection team.

Staff should use PPE for close personal contact with a symptomatic resident or bodily fluids.

  • Aprons, gloves and fluid repellent surgical masks should be used in these situations.
  • If there is a risk of splashing, then eye protection will minimise risk.
  • New PPE must be used for each episode of care.
  • On leaving the resident’s room, PPE should be removed, and hand hygiene performed immediately, as per standard infection control precautions.
  • Isolation may end after 7 days from illness onset, so long as the case feels better and has no fever.”

Read full guidance by click link below.

Interim IPC advice for care homes_v1.2_20200318

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