25th Mar 2020
Life in schools is changing very quickly and we are making every effort to answer your questions and provide you with the latest developments. The following information should address some of the issues you have raised.
BEING IN SCHOOL
Health and Safety are paramount and there are certain circumstances under which you should not be in school.
Members who are pregnant, in an at-risk category as defined by the PHA, or live with someone in one of these categories, should not be in school. Pay will continue as normal. Those who display symptoms or live with someone who does should self-isolate according to the latest PHA guidance.
If you are not symptomatic, you will be supporting remote learning as established by your school.
If you are in school, you are only required to be there between the hours of 9 and 3. In the event that you are not needed you should be released as soon as possible.
If you are supporting remote learning from home, you should organise your working time around your own responsibilities.
It must be stressed that schools as we know them are not currently in operation. Teachers should therefore be liaising with their Principal and supporting remote learning but it is not necessary to provide weekly planners or evaluations at this time.
In the event that the Principal and Vice-Principal are not in attendance at school, the service may still be operated if another teacher, with the approval of the Board of Governors, is happy to take charge on any given day.
Taking into consideration the current state of the virus and the health advice, we would also advise that parents should not be coming on to school premises to collect paper-based packs of work.
The Minister has given the commitment that substitute teachers will be paid for any work booked/promised verbally. Unfortunately some members are experiencing difficulties here even in the face of clear direction from DE. If you are having difficulties please contact us as a matter of priority.
Whilst the terminology to be used has not been decided, many schools are already working together to provide a joint service. The data being received by the Department of Education on a daily basis suggests that this may be an effective way forward. We would encourage schools to keep providing this data. DE will provide practical guidance regarding clustering of schools in the coming days.
It is important that schools come together willingly. It should also be considered, in establishing rotas of staff, that children from all schools involved would benefit from seeing a familiar face.
Schools are not and will not be obliged to participate and can continue to operate individually if they choose.
Schools will continue to be used to provide a service for the relevant children during the Easter holidays. At this time schools will be staffed by volunteers only who will receive additional pay for working outside of their contracted hours. DE will make contact with teachers to ascertain who wishes to volunteer. NISTR will also be in contact with teachers on their register to offer opportunities.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
DE continues to take daily advice from the agencies dealing with public health. It is the current opinion of PHE that schools should continue to observe hand-washing, social distancing, etc, but there is no requirement for PPE at this time.
We are all aware of the impact the on-going situation can have on the mental health of both teachers and children. Plans are being developed to support children and young people and details will be available shortly. For teachers, Inspire is operational and members are encouraged to make use of the service.
Please continue to send your questions and concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org. The feedback from schools on the ground has been invaluable in enabling us to shape the way forward. As ever, an Official will contact you asap.