COVID Update: UNISON National Update for members in schools

Dear UNISON members

Please read extract from UNISON National Schools Committee Statement – 2 November 2020

“Therefore, during the new lockdown – to ensure the safety of pupils, staff and the community – schools and nurseries should move back to the arrangements implemented during the first lockdown earlier this year. This would mean keeping schools and nurseries open for children of key workers and vulnerable children, ensuring that they maintain their education and get a hot meal. Online learning should be put in place for all other children – with government providing IT equipment for disadvantaged pupils, so that they can learn from home effectively.

However, as the government intends to push the new measures through parliament on Wednesday, urgent steps are needed now to protect staff and pupils in schools that are open:

These should include:

1. Reduce risks by maximising social distancing and implement existing contingency plans for reduced class sizes and home learning (schools already have these plans in plans in place).

2. Reduce bubble sizes and introduce rotas to reduce risks.

3. Staff remaining within one bubble; so reducing the risk of spread across the school.

4. Moving whole bubbles to home learning where a pupil or member of staff develops coronavirus symptoms or receives a positive test.

5. Ensure that all school staff have priority access to the test and trace system.

6. Require all pupils and staff to wear face coverings while at school (including classrooms) as is policy in other countries e.g. France. Clear face masks to be made available so that pupils and staff who need to read lips are not disadvantaged. There should be exemptions for pupils and staff who cannot wear face coverings.

7. Move all clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), clinically vulnerable (CV) and pregnant staff (3rd trimester) to home working as they are at the highest risk from becoming seriously ill if they catch the virus. CEV and CV staff who cannot work from home to stay at home on full pay.

8. Individual risk assessments for staff in high risk groups, such as Black staff, men over 50 and those with a BMI over 30. Staff identified as being at particular risk should also be allowed to work from home.

9. Permit and encourage staff (and pupils aged 16 and over) to use the NHS COVID app in school, including classrooms, as per DfE guidance.

10. Stronger measures on school transport and at the school gates to stop mixing, ensure social distancing and the wearing of face coverings.

11. Increase funding to schools to cover the increased costs of cleaning

To read full UNISON STATEMENT by clicking on link below