UTU UPDATE 3RD APRIL 2020
We would like to begin by commending all of you for your work and efforts at this difficult time.
Whether you are involved in remote learning, taking part in rotas in schools, or both, this is all new territory and teachers are doing an effective and professional job under challenging circumstances.
To anyone who is ill and/or self-isolating we wish you well.
The Easter break is about to begin and the following information may be useful for you moving forward. Even though we trust you will have a well-earned break from school issues, we can assure you that UTU Officials will still be available to address any concerns during the holiday period.
We would encourage you, in the interests of your mental and physical health, to take a well-deserved rest over the next fortnight. There is another difficult term to come and you must put your wellbeing first in your list of priorities.
For those of you engaged in remote learning, these activities will cease during what would have been your normal Easter holiday. You need a break – and the children do, too.
For those of you who have decided to volunteer your services in schools over Easter, again, be mindful of your health and stick to a workable balance. The children in your care should also have a break from structured learning.
Members are reminded that working in schools during the Easter period is entirely voluntary.
NISTR is coordinating the employment of substitute teachers during this time. If you are interested in volunteering and have not yet received any communication, contact NISTR directly to ascertain the next steps in the process.
The health and safety of our members takes priority and is central to any discussions with management. We are currently urging the employing authorities to furnish schools with robust guidance based on proper and appropriate risk assessment as to the practicalities of caring for children in a school setting at this time. This is of particular importance as schools merge into COVID 19 clusters. We would expect such guidance to direct schools as to appropriate cleaning practices, social distancing and the relevant adult-children ratios. We are also seeking clarification around the testing of teachers as front line workers and the appropriate PPE to ensure the minimisation of risk.
We expect this guidance to issue as a matter of priority and would welcome your comments when it does.
UTU is aware of the real concerns of those substitute teachers who had no work booked for the future. We continue to put pressure on the DE and employing authorities in regard to the support they intend to provide. We hope to have news on progress in the near future and will inform you as a matter of priority.
Teachers and schools are employing many new and creative teaching methods to deliver remote learning. Some of these methods are tried and tested and have already been employed in schools as part of teaching and learning, and communication with parents, for some time.
Others, however, are relatively new and some members have raised concerns in relation to their personal privacy and the possibility of abuse.
We know that these are different times but there can be no justification for exposing teachers to risk.
If you have any concerns about new practices being introduced in your school, contact UTU on firstname.lastname@example.org.
UTU is developing guidance to support you in the area of remote learning and this will be with you before the new term commences.
UTU wishes you a restful break.
As previously stated, Officials will continue to be available on email@example.com for any issues which may arise.