FAQs Barnet educational settings 22 March 2020

Frequently Asked Questions for Barnet educational settings that are continuing to be open for children of key workers – from Barnet Public Health Team 22 March 2020

What are the Standard Operating Procedures for working with children who may have been exposed to the virus as their parents work with people who have COVID-19 infection?

  • People exposed to the virus, children or adults, should not be attending schools. Significant exposure to the virus that warrant action, if you do not have symptoms, is defined as living in a household with someone who has COVID-19 symptoms of high fever (37.8 degrees or higher) and/or persistent cough. These people should self-isolate at home for 14 days;
  • Parents who work with people with COVID-19 symptoms (e.g. medical and nursing staff or social care workers) wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), that protects them from being exposed to the virus;
  • PPE stock for the NHS and care homes were replenished last week. PPE delivery is continuing into this week too.
  • Therefore, parents who work with COVID-19 suspected people, are unlikely to be exposed to the virus, unprotected;
  • If, however, any parents or staff develop high temperature (37.8 or higher) and/or persistent cough, they must self-isolate at home for 7 days immediately and their children, as members of their household, because they may have been exposed to the virus at that point, will need to be isolated for 14 days. If, during this period, those who did not initially have symptoms now start showing symptoms, they must self-isolate for 7 days, from a day when fist symptom occurred;
  • It is recommended to schools to communicate these messages to all parents who classify as key workers and, every morning, school staff may ask the following questions:
    • Do you or your child or any member of your household have a high temperature (37.8 degrees or higher) and/or a persistent cough? If the answer is yes, they should not be allowed to leave their child at the school.


  1. What systems should be put in place to keep the staff safe?

For children and staff who remain at schools, social distancing measures and general hygiene measures should be applied at all times:

  • Washing hands more often – with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser, if washing basin is not available, when you get home or into work/school, when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food;
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands;
  • All staff and children coming to school should avoid all non-essential public transport travel, whenever possible and, outside school hours, should minimise social interactions, as per the national guidelines;
  • In school, keep windows opened, keep a distance of 2m between children and staff, avoid contact sport, no ball games, use of books or keyboards;
  • Activities that can continue is a walk in a playground (but not using equipment that cannot be cleaned after each child) or watching educational programmes or movies;
  • Due to a reduced number of children in school, keeping open only a part of the school would make it easier to maintain regular cleaning;
  • PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is not recommended for frontline staff who do not work with children and adults with COVID-19 symptoms.


  1. What is the current advice for staff with underlying health conditions?
  • The main objective of COVID-19 response is to protect our staff and vulnerable residents. To do this, we are recommending that people with underlying health conditions (as defined by Public Health England) must stay at home.This includes all frontline staff underlying health conditions;
  • We understand that, for some frontline staff, this is a particularly difficult decision as it may stop them from continuing in their current role. However, we do strongly advise you to follow the PHE and Barnet Council’s guidelines, in all circumstances. This is because these groups of staff, however healthy they are now, are at increased risk of catching the virus and having more severe illness with potentially serious outcomes;
  • It is unlikely that staff would not be aware or have undetected underlying conditions from the list specified in PHE guidelines. However, if staff are worried that this may be the case, they should contact their GP to confirm.


  1. What to do if someone develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) on site?
  • If anyone becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature in an education setting they should be sent home and advised to follow the staying at home guidance;
  • If a child is awaiting collection, they should be moved, if possible and if appropriate, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door. Settings should be mindful of individual children’s needs – for example it would not be appropriate for younger children to be alone without adult supervision. Ideally, a window should be opened for ventilation. If it is not possible to isolate them, move them to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people;
  • If they need to go to the bathroom while waiting to be collected, they should use a separate bathroom if possible. The bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected using standard cleaning products before being used by anyone else;
  • If they need clinical advice, they (or their teacher, parent or guardian) should go online to NHS 111 (or call 111 if they don’t have internet access). In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital;
  • If a member of staff has helped someone who was taken unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell.


  1. If someone on site developed COVID-19 symptoms, how do we ensure that the area is cleaned properly?

Public Health England has issued guidance for cleaning public areas for non-healthcare settings if they had a case of suspected COVID-19 infection.

The key things that must be followed are highlighted below. However, please read the full guidance carefully here. <<(https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings)>>

  • Cleaning an area with normal household disinfectant after someone with suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people;
  • If an area can be kept closed and secure for 72 hours, wait until this time has passed before cleaning. The level of contamination from the virus that might be living on surfaces will have reduced;
  • Wherever possible, wear disposable or washing-up gloves and aprons for cleaning. These should be double-bagged, then stored securely for 72 hours then thrown away in the regular rubbish after cleaning is finished;
  • Use a disposable cloth, first clean hard surfaces with warm soapy water. Then disinfect these surfaces with the cleaning products you normally use. Pay particular attention to frequently touched areas and surfaces, such as bathrooms, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells and door handles;
  • If an area has been heavily contaminated, such as with visible bodily fluids, from a person with coronavirus (COVID-19), consider using protection for the eyes, mouth and nose, as well as wearing gloves and an apron;
  • Follow the waste disposal procedure as outlined in the guidance, contaminated waste bags should be stored for 72 hours before being put out for collection;
  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds, and after removing gloves, aprons and other protection used while cleaning.

Barnet Public Health Team – 22 March 2020


Barnet UNISON statement:

Please let the branch know if you are being told something different at your school by sending an email to


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

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

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BREAKING NEWS: Covid-19 – information for Barnet schools on pay/HR matters and Easter holiday provision

Please note the guidance below has been sent out to all Barnet Schools by Barnet Council on Friday 20 March 2020.

*** Highlights in have been added by UNISON


Pay and HR matters

Schools will clearly receive advice from their own HR provider, but the council (and Cambridge Education) are taking the following approach.

Staff who are required to isolate in accordance with Public Health England guidance will continue to receive their full pay.  This includes people who have shown Coronavirus symptoms (self-isolate at home for seven days), or live with someone who has symptoms (self-isolate at home for fourteen days), or have underlying health issues or who are pregnant.

Staff will also continue to receive their full pay if they need to care for children at home due to school closures, although, where possible, they are expected to work and be available to carry out other duties if required.

All such staff should work from home if they can.  They should identify themselves to their line managers immediately and agree arrangements for home-working.

Sick Pay

Staff who are not working (including home-working) due to sickness, whether they are self-isolating or not, will receive sick pay in accordance with the terms of their contract of employment.  This means that the period of sickness will count towards the calculation of sick pay entitlement (i.e. thus impact the number of weeks of sick pay available to them).  However, if they have Coronavirus symptoms, it will not trigger procedures in respect of staff having more than a certain number of days off sick or frequent sickness.


HR procedures

Headteachers should continue with any redundancies/restructures/TUPE transfers/ disciplinary hearings etc if necessary, but headteachers should consider the appropriateness of such activities if their school is closed or partially closed or if affected staff are either sick or self-isolating.


Easter opening

The government’s advice for parents says: Where possible, we would encourage childcare providers, schools and colleges to continue to look after critical workers’ children and vulnerable children throughout the Easter holidays.

Whether schools do that will be a matter for each school, taking account of staff availability, who volunteers, and the number of key workers who might need such provision over the holiday period.   Headteachers will no doubt find ways of managing their staffing resources flexibly and may wish to consider letting teaching staff and term-time only support staff who work during the Easter holiday have time off in lieu at a later date.

If you do plan to open during the Easter holiday, and require school meals, you will need to make arrangements with your school meals provider.

You may already have an arrangement with an outside provider to deliver services during Easter. Clearly this can continue and include vulnerable children and the children of key workers if necessary. We will be working with the voluntary sector to see what they can provide over the Easter period that your pupils may be able to access. We will keep a list of those schools, providers and voluntary organisations who are operating over the Easter period and will let you know what provision is available locally for your pupils if they require it.

Clearly faith schools will want to incorporate arrangements in relation to religious festivals into their planning.

Ian Harrison

Education and Skills Director

20 March 2020


Barnet UNISON statement:

Please let the branch know if you are being told something different at your school by sending an email to



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

Coronavirus Update “underlying medical conditions”. 17 March 2020

“I have been told that I have an underlying medical condition and I must leave work and self-isolate for 12 weeks.”

“What do they mean by self-isolation?”

  • Those who are vulnerable* should stay off work for 12 weeks (not in self isolation but to avoid risk of infection)
  • Self-isolation means staying indoors and not even shopping for food or essentials. Further details are here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance
  • All unnecessary social contact and travel should be avoided by everyone, including pubs, restaurants, theatres etc.

 “What do they mean by underlying conditions?”


  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (i.e. anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
  • chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
  • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
  • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
  • diabetes
  • problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
  • a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
  • being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
  • those who are pregnant

Some clinical conditions put people at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you are in this category, next week the NHS in England will directly contact you with advice the more stringent measures you should take in order to keep yourself and others safe. For now, you should rigorously follow the social distancing advice in full, outlined below.

People falling into this group are those who may be at particular risk due to complex health problems such as:

  • people who have received an organ transplant and remain on ongoing immunosuppression medication
  • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy
  • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia who are at any stage of treatment
  • people with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma (requiring hospital admissions or courses of steroid tablets)
  • people with severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis)

Barnet UNISON advice:

If you have any of the above conditions please contact your employer. Barnet Council have confirmed that all of their staff and agency workers who are at risk and will need to self-isolate will receive full pay. If you have any problems please contact the Barnet UNISON office at


Corona Virus: Barnet UNISON update

Dear Members

As the Corona (Corvid-19) virus has spread it has become the main issue of concern in our workplaces.

The main responsibility for dealing with the virus lies with the UK Government and national and regional agencies. But Barnet UNISON believes, along with the rest of the Trade Union movement, that unions and employers, working together, can make a significant difference to ensure that the effects of the outbreak are minimised.

Over the last few weeks Barnet UNISON have been trying to engage with Barnet Council about the Corona Virus. We want to work with the Council in a cooperative way to inform and protect our members, other colleagues and the public, so that measures taken in response to the virus are appropriate, sufficient, and fairly applied.  We also believe that working this way will help prevent irresponsible behaviour and panic.

UNISON members have raised their concerns with us on obtaining information on the level of risk, the lack of precautionary measure such as sanitisers at some work sites, and the repercussions of not being at work because of illness, self-isolation or other result of the outbreak.

The Council have been relaying information from the Government, the NHS and Public Health England on the intranet or through work emails, but not all Barnet workers have easy access to these, and are missing important communications. Further guidance specific to our workplaces is also needed.

The Council have tried to supply sanitisers and wipes, but they have informed that we problems with supply of these items have proved a major obstacle.  At a service and local level some mangers and staff have been procuring items for the protection of colleagues, but UNISON hold that these should have been planned for and provided at the Council Corporate level before now.

In response to our members concerns we have raised a number of issues with the Council. These include

  • Guidance and information
  • Provision of protectionary items and procedures
  • Risk Assessments
  • Specific arrangements for colleagues at greater risk from the virus such as those over 65 or those with underlying health problems.
  • Procedures for Council buildings open to the public
  • Actions to take at worksites if people with confirmed cases of the virus have visited or worked there.
  • Procedures for Home visits to service users
  • Sick Leave
  • Working from home
  • Absence reporting
  • Service cover for high levels of absence
  • School closures and child care responsibilities
  • Appraisal targets and deadlines

At the time of writing we still await a full response from the Council and but have been informed that the issues will be discussed at meeting next week.  Barnet UNISON welcome this but such discussion and information should have already   been provided.  But we hope that this signals the Council’s willingness to truly engage with UNISON and the other trade unions in protecting the health of our colleagues and the public.

In the meantime please use the following links to get further information on the Corona Virus.




If you have concerns or questions please contact your local UNISON reps, or the Branch at



The Corona virus requires a collective response.  Acting together to protect ourselves is the cornerstone of trade unionism. Working together and looking out for our colleagues, friends, family, service users and the wider community will be a major factor in reducing the damage caused by the virus.  Selfish individualist actions, such as panic buying, profiteering on in-demand items or stealing sanitisers from work places threaten all of us, including those committing these acts.


Stay safe, stay healthy.


In Solidarity

Hugh Jordan

Branch Health & Safety Officer/Libraries Convenor

Barnet Unison


Tel: 0208 359 2088



BREAKING NEWS: UNISON begins the process of registering legal claims for its term-time members against a Barnet School.

UNISON has made the first step of lodging legal claims on behalf of its members working for Barnet School by registering the claim with ACAS. This is the first step that must be taken before a claim is formally lodged with the Employment Tribunal.

The decision to lodge the claims came after months of local talks had failed to deliver a settlement which UNISON could recommend to our members.

UNISON remains open to a local resolution.

The School has for many years knowingly used a Term Time Pay formula (originally used by Barnet Council until 2017) that has undervalued and underpaid annual leave entitlement and pay for its term-time only staff.

Local UNISON reps in the School have carried out an inspirational role in recruiting and organising the members in the school to challenge this injustice.

Furthermore UNISON discovered that there has been widespread underpayment of term-time staff in at least 51 Barnet Schools. We are determined to ensure that every one of our members in those schools are paid correctly going forward and is awarded compensation for the years of underpayment.

For those members in the Local Government Pension Scheme UNISON is also seeking a recalculation of any pension entitlement under the LGPS resulting from any underpayment or understatement of pensionable service.

On Wednesday 15th January 2020 UNISON lodged collective grievances against 51 Barnet Schools to ensure we protect claims on behalf of all of our members working in those schools.

Barnet UNISON will be organising meetings in all of the schools to explain what is happening and what members need to do next.






Good News: Street Scene service moving out of Harrow depot

Barnet UNISON will never understand how a major strategic decision like moving the Council depot was made without a viable option was available to the Council frontline services.

What happened was a classic fudge/ad hoc/make do. To put it simply it has been a disaster.

The Waste and Recycling and Street Cleansing services were split between the new depot in Oakleigh Road South and London Borough of Harrow depot.

Not only was it bad operationally it was expensive and the ongoing costs have been a constant strain on the service.

The Gritting service was also moved to Harrow and we all know what happened when we had a bad winter two years ago despite the heroic efforts of the workforce to try and make it work.

It was never going to work. The staff across all services have tried their best to make it work. The fact that staffing budgets were also cut simply added to the problem. .

What didn’t help and still doesn’t help is seeing that the Capita contracts have cashed in to the tune of £438 million since the contract started which is £165.6 million more than the contract value. Try explaining that to workers whose pay or pensions has been messed up by Capita or to the staff working at Oakleigh who have seen their branch new depot splitting like it has been hit by a minor earth quake.

What is the good news?

The good news is that the Brogans site which has been empty for a long time has been secured by Barnet Council.

This means the whole of the Waste and Recycling service is now running out of Oakleigh Depot. However we are still running Street Cleansing out of Harrow which means we are still paying rent on the Harrow site and now the Brogans site.

Depot Building works

The depot has some serious problems the subsidence has split the road and there appears to be real risk of a landslide which is something that has happened in the past. This risk was clearly sufficiently serious for the Council to arrange for buildings works to begin sometime in November this year.

Rounds changes.

As a result of the major building works at the depot there is an impact on the Bin collection service. Barnet Council has written to residents about the changes.

It is disappointing that the changes had not been run by the drivers. This mistake was made with the previous Bin collection changes.

There is nothing we can do now.

It remains to be seen if the proposed changes will work.

BREAKING NEWS: Barnet Homes announce termination of outsourced Mears Housing repairs service and domestic gas service

BREAKING NEWS: Barnet Homes announce termination of outsourced Mears Housing repairs service and bring back domestic gas service

The following announcement was made to all Barnet Homes staff on Wednesday, 9 October 2019

“From 1 April 2020, the Barnet Homes repairs service, currently provided by contractors Mears, will be brought in-house. This means that Barnet Homes will be responsible for repairs in tenants’ homes, refurbishing void properties and repairs to communal parts on our estates.

The domestic gas service will continue to be managed by Mears until 1 October 2020, when it will also be transferred into Barnet Homes and run as an in-house service.”

“This is fantastic news. Housing repairs was one of the first contracts to be outsourced by Barnet Homes. Housing repairs is a critical service and should not have ever been outsourced. Housing repairs was originally delivered by Barnet Council (and should return back there) after which it was first outsourced to Barnet Homes then sold off to Connaughts which became bankrupt. The service was handed on to Lovells and finally to Mears. Looking after council tenants needs to be under the direct control of the Council. This is a welcome first step to that end. The role of Council Housing needs to be seen just as important as Family Services in addressing the brutality of child poverty. All Councils must learn lessons from Grenfell and accept Housing is a human right and as such should be provided directly by the Council.” John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.

Homeless: Barnet UNISON quest to find an office

Dear Members

Since the formation of Barnet Council in 1965 there has always been an office for our members to visit and meet with their reps first when it was NALGO and now Barnet UNISON.

Barnet UNISON has moved a few times over the last decades. We were based in an old mortuary in Hendon until the Council moved services “lock, stock and barrel” to North London Business Park (NLBP).

We remained in NLBP until the Council began its new accommodation strategy.

We were moved to Barnet House and we are still here.

It is really important for our members that they have access to their trade union.

Currently we have large numbers of members at Oakleigh Road depot, NLBP, Colindale.

Over the last 12 months we have been in discussions with the Council to find suitable accommodation that is accessible and provides confidentiality.

Why are we not at Colindale?

The set up in Colindale is open plan and the Council were unable to secure an enclosed office where we could meet, greet and discuss issues with our members. It is important that members are able to access Barnet UNISON without others knowing.

Subsequently we have been looking at some other properties. Originally we were going to return to Building 2 NLBP for a limited amount of time but that has not materialised.

Time is running out.

At the moment we are still in Barnet House because the building is still open for Housing Needs service which has not moved to Colindale. At some point Barnet House will be closed and we will be out on the streets hence the need to find something suitable.

We are still hoping to find a solution with the Council but we need to be prepared for potentially being homeless.

How you can help?

We are calling on all members to keep a look out for anywhere they think might be suitable for a Barnet UNISON office.

It’s important that members understand that the branch does not have funding for an office and therefore any costs would have to be taken out of our existing budget. This is a real concern because we have a large and diverse membership and we struggle to live within our budget each year. We will of course be contacting our union to ask if they are able to provide extra funding for accommodation and we will report back to our members the outcome of that request.


Important Announcement: John Burgess Branch Secretary

Important Announcement: John Burgess Branch Secretary

Dear Members

Our Branch Secretary John Burgess is currently off sick and at this time we are unable to say when he will return.

The reason for this announcement is to alert members that our resources are reduced at this time as we do not have any resources to cover his absence.
We are working hard to prepare a plan by which we can ensure that are still able to support all of our members regardless of their employer.
If you are in need of support please make sure you ring the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

We are asking all of our reps to call into the office is you feel able to offer some support to the branch.

I am sure all of our members would want to wish John a speedy recovery.

The Branch Meeting on 4th September at 12.30pm in Colindale Conference Suite 1, will still be taking place. 


Helen Davies
Branch Chair

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