Coronavirus

The situation with Coronavirus is changing rapidly and so is the advice from government, medical experts and other bodies including the NEU and other unions. The NEU has published advice and guidance on the website and this will be updated as when necessary.

At the moment there are no plans for schools to close, but this may change. We understand that schools will be preparing for this. NEU Joint General Secretaries, Kevin Courtney and Mary Bousted, have written to the Prime Minister to ask why aren’t schools closing if mass gatherings are to be suspended?

The purpose of this briefing is to provide Reps and members with some guidance on some questions we have been asked and matters that should be discussed in school.

Some of these things may be happening in your school already, but we suggest that you call a meeting and seek reassurances from your headteacher. 

  • SELF-ISOLATION: Government advice is that anyone who develops a persistent cough or fever should self-isolate for a period of seven days. Where this happens it should not be treated as sickness absence and the member of staff should continue to receive full pay. You do not need a GP certificate to cover this period of isolation. Staff who are self-isolating, may be asked to do work at home if possible.
  • CORONAVIRUS: Where a member of staff does contract Coronavirus their absence should be recorded as sickness. However, their absence for this reason should not be counted as part of the trigger for sickness monitoring or review meetings.
  • PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITIONS: We advise that colleagues with pre-existing medical conditions seek advice from their GP and if advised to stay off work this should be confirmed in writing.
  • RISK ASSESSMENTS: We advise that schools should carry out risk assessments for vulnerable staff including those with disabilities, staff who are pregnant or who are immunocompromised (such as anyone undergoing treatment for cancer, HIV+ etc).
  • AGENCY STAFF: The NEU has issued advice for agency staff who are unable to work. We believe that staff who are on long-term placement with a school should continue to be paid.
  • DIRECTED TIME: We advise Reps to ask heads for a review of Directed Time activities such as parents meetings, school trips. Are these absolutely necessary? Can they be organised in another way?
  • LEAVE OF ABSENCE: We believe that the current arrangements for taking time off to care for a sick dependent should be relaxed to take account of the current crisis.
  • EXAMS: Exam boards are monitoring the situation and preparing for contingencies should there be long-term school closures. Ofqual have already produced initial guidance and the NEU will engage with exam authorities through this process.
  • COVER: Cover policies should not be changed in the light of this crisis. NEU does not support doubling up of classes and where this is being suggested you should contact us for advice.
  • HYGIENE: we think there should be a review of cleaning routines, particularly in respect of handles and swtiches. All toilet and washing facilities should contain sufficient soap and water to allow users to wash their hands, which can help eliminate or reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

This situation is changing rapidly and we will attempt to keep you updated with current advice. Please do not hesitate to contact the NEU if you need any advice or guidance.

You can download a copy of this guidance here

Other NEU advice on Coronavirus here

NEU statement on Coronavirus and class size here

March 14th 2020