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/

 

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BarnetUNISON/

 

Twitter https://twitter.com/barnet_unison

 

 

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

Front line worker: What should you do if you have someone else living with you?

Below is the latest government advice for those workers who live with someone who is defined as at risk from the Coronavirus.

“Guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19”

Updated 30 March 2020

Background and scope of guidance

This guidance is for people, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) because of an underlying health condition, and for their family, friends and carers. It is intended for use in situations where the extremely vulnerable person is living in their own home, with or without additional support. This includes the extremely clinically vulnerable people living in long-term care facilities, either for the elderly or persons with special needs.

Shielding is a measure to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others. We are strongly advising people with serious underlying health conditions (listed below), which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19), to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe.

  1. Minimise as much as possible the time other family members spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas, and keep shared spaces well ventilated.
  2. Aim to keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from people you live with and encourage them to sleep in a different bed where possible. If you can, you should use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. Make sure you use separate towels from the other people in your house, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand-hygiene purposes.
  3. If you do share a toilet and bathroom with others, it is important that they are cleaned after use every time (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with). Another tip is to consider drawing up a rota for bathing, with you using the facilities first.
  4. If you share a kitchen with others, avoid using it while they are present. If you can, you should take your meals back to your room to eat. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry the family’s used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly. If you are using your own utensils, remember to use a separate tea towel for drying these.
  5. We understand that it will be difficult for some people to separate themselves from others at home. You should do your very best to follow this guidance and everyone in your household should regularly wash their hands, avoid touching their face, and clean frequently touched surfaces.

If the rest of your household stringently follow advice on social distancing and minimise the risk of spreading the virus within the home by following the advice above, there is no need for them to also shield alongside you.”

Read more advice here

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

 

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/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BarnetUNISON/

Twitter https://twitter.com/barnet_unison

Barnet UNISON seek Hazard Payment for frontline workers

TESCOs announced a few days ago that they are giving frontline staff a 10% bonus to recognise their invaluable effort to help feed the nation.

The majority of key workers being asked to go into work and face the risks of contracting COVID 19 are often the lowest paid workers such as:

  • Care workers
  • Cleaners
  • Street Scene workers, Bin workers, street cleansing, drivers etc.
  • School Support staff

In recognition of the risks they are taking every day whilst having to cope with the stress and anxiety of trying to cope at home with all the restrictions COVID 19 is bringing into their lives, Barnet UNISON has taken the following action:

Barnet UNISON have formally requested Barnet Council to adopt a similar bonus payment for key workers for the duration of this crisis.

The Council are considering our request.

Watch this space…………..

 

Barnet UNISON statement:

Please let the branch know what is going on with your employer by emailing

contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

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

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

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BarnetUNISON/

Twitter https://twitter.com/barnet_unison

 

Who are the Key Workers who need to have child care provided by Schools?

See below
Key Workers:
· Health and social care – includes doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.
· Education and childcare – includes nursery and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.
· Key public services – includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.
· Local and national government – only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response or delivering essential public services such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.
· Food and other necessary goods – includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).
· Public safety and national security – includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.
· Transport – includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.
· Utilities, communication and financial services – includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.

Barnet UNISON members if you have any questions please email the branch at contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

UNISON in relation to Coronavirus, all workplaces including schools.

Dear Member

I thought I would share the latest update from UNISON in relation to Coronavirus, all workplaces including schools.  

“What is UNISON nationally is doing now?

We are seeking to work with national government, local government and education employers to draw up additional guidance. We have raised a range of issues with them including:

  • Which workers we believe should be defined as essential staff and have access to education facilities;
  • Closures and full pay – the need for reassurance around full pay for all staff including contractors (catering, cleaning etc), agency staff and sessional workers;
  • Health and safety – need for risk assessments, protective equipment, schools fully stocked with all necessary cleaning products and testing;
  • Postponement of redundancies/restructures/TUPE transfers/ disciplinary hearings etc during this period;
  • Joint working with unions and employers locally and nationally to help schools and pupils and staff through crisis with employers and unions recognising the need for flexibility. Asking for volunteers first when employers are seeking to re-deploy staff;”

More details here.

https://www.unison.org.uk/at-work/education-services/key-issues/covid-19-closures/

I have submitted the above to Barnet Council and requested that I need a response which I can share to all of our members.

Please note:

If you have any questions please email

contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

 

Barnet UNISON office moves to home working

Until further notice Barnet UNISON will be operating a home working system from our branch workers in line with government advice which means the branch office is closed for access.

Our answering machine and emails will be monitored during this period and we will continue to provide telephone and email advice to our members, individual face to face representation is to be postponed at this time however we will still be representing you but trying to find an alternative way to do so in line with the government advice on COVID19.

If you have a new issue or query you would like assistance with, in the first instance, please either telephone the branch on 020 8359 2088 and leave a message on the Voicemail, giving your name and phone number very clearly and slowly or email the branch at contactus@barnetunison.org.uk and leave your name, contact telephone number, workplace and a brief outline of your issue or query.

We will arrange for a representative to contact you as soon as possible.

Please see below a list of our Officers and reps together with their contact details and working hours for those who have ongoing cases with the below:

Monday to Friday.  John Burgess Branch Secretary John.Burgess@barnetunison.org.uk

Monday to Friday. Helen Davies Branch Chair Helen.Davies@barnetunison.org.uk

Tuesday & Thursday. Hugh Jordan Health and Safety/Convenor Libraries Hugh.Jordan@barnetunison.org.uk

Tuesday to Wednesday Beverly Berrick (Schools) Tues- Weds Beverley.Berrick@barnetunison.org.uk

Wednesday to Friday.  Chris Jobson Street Scene Convenor Chris.Jobson@barnetunison.org.uk

Wednesday to Friday. Patrick Hunter Convenor Barnet Homes Patrick.Hunter@barnetunison.org.uk

Monday to Friday. Lorraine Berry Office Manager Lorraine.Berry@barnetunison.org.uk

You can also ring Unison Direct on 0800 0857 857.

End.

 

 

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