Coronavirus Update: 27th April 2020

The purpose of this briefing is to remind members of key points of NEU advice, following the government’s decision to ask schools to remain closed until further notice.

Government advice continues to be that, anyone who can work at home should do so, and anyone who can keep their child at home should do so – NHS workers are asking people to stay at home if at all possible. Members should avoid using public transport if at all possible.

  1. WHO SHOULD BE WORKING FROM HOME?

There are three groups of staff, who should definitely be working from home:

  • those who have developed a consistent cough or fever
  • those who are in one of the vulnerable groups identified by the government
  • those who live with, or care for someone, in one of the vulnerable groups
  1. WHICH CHILDREN SHOULD BE IN SCHOOL?

The only children in school should be children of key workers, or other vulnerable children, who really can’t find an alternative. Government advice is that occupancy should be no more than 10%. Schools should do everything they can to adhere to government guidelines on social distancing.

  1. HOW MANY STAFF SHOULD BE IN SCHOOL?

Staffing should be kept at the minimum required to provide childcare for the number of children in school. This means asking staff to volunteer to be on a rota. The NEU is encouraging members to work on a rota in schools unless they are in one of the government’s vulnerable groups, or caring for someone in one of those groups.

  1. HOME WORKING AND DISTANCE LEARING

A summary of some key points from the NEU advice:

  • Workload for home working should be reasonable and allow for individual circumstances of staff
  • Schools should acknowledge that not all children will have the same access to computers and the internet
  • Schools should not attempt to recreate the school timetable or curriculum
  • The focus should be on flexible activities and stimulus that are fun, exciting and do not necessarily need access to the internet
  • Schools should try to avoid covering new content for GCSE and A Level courses
  • The NEU advises against live-streaming lessons for safety reasons – pre-recorded videos are a preferred option but this should be a voluntary activity with no compulsion on teachers to do this.
  • Teachers should not be expected to routinely grade or mark students’ work
  • Staff should not be expected to produce a daily log of work done
  1. CALLING CHILDREN AND FAMILIES AT HOME

With schools remaining closed to the vast majority of children, many will be feeling a sense of dislocation and may be missing seeing familiar friends and faces. The NEU believes that there is real value in teachers making “welfare’” calls to speak to children and check how they are getting on. Where schools are considering making calls to families, it should be discussed with staff and their union Reps and a protocol agreed.

See our separate briefing on making home calls:

  1. NAHT ADVICE TO HEADTEACHERS
    We expect heads to continue to consult with NEU Reps and staff about all matters arising from this crisis. This is supported by the NAHT advice to headteachers, “It will be impossible to build the team response you will need if you rely on compulsion. That will lead to resentment and people will simply stay away using “isolation” to legitimise their absence. This effort cannot be about compulsion. Success will be borne out of mutual respect, understanding and support.”

We will issue further updates but please do check the NEU website www.neu.org.uk/coronavirus and contact us if you have any concerns about any aspect of this situation.

Download a copy of this: Coronavirus_briefing_No.5

27th April 2020