VIRUS: WHEN WILL BACK TO SCHOOL GO AHEAD?

Education members highlight their concerns through UNISON survey

UNISON – flying the flag for the rights of education workers.

By Democrat reporter

The Scottish government has indicated that schools will return on August 11th. Some members are also currently working in hubs and this is expected to continue. There also appears to be an expectation that early learning and childcare provision will continue and indeed scale up over the summer. There is little published detail or guidance as yet on the education recovery process as most of this will be done at authority and school level. This is expected very soon.

UNISON Branch is involved in a range of strategic groups with the Scottish Government and COSLA as they plan the easing of lockdown and locally with senior managers. Our aim in these groups is to ensure the safety of staff who are currently working and other workers as they return to workplaces in the coming weeks and months.

As guidance is agreed and published it has to be implemented properly to be effective and that will need effective trade union involvement in local planning and decision making. Employers cannot treat staff and staffing issues as an afterthought.

UNISON has surveyed members and the findings are clear. Members are very concerned about their own safety.

• 83% are “worried” or “very worried” about returning to work and/or increasing numbers of children returning to establishments. Of those people 13% are losing sleep worrying about it. Only 3% felt fully confident
• Less than a fifth felt that their setting had the staff, resources and expertise to ensure all health and safety measure and risk assessments are in place
• Just under a quarter felt that establishments were cleaned often enough to keep them safe from Covid 19
• They are also deeply concerned about transmission from a-symptomatic children/parents and how effective infection control procedures can be put into place for those working with children.

UNISON will raise these findings in our ongoing discussion with senior managers and the Scottish Government and COSLA.

Key issues
• Testing, tracing and isolation (TTI): needs to be in place to ensure children are not bring Covid-10 into schools
• Appropriate guidance round safety and infection control needs to be in place
• Guidance needs to implemented in settings
• Risk assessments need to be done for settings but also for some staff who have specific health concerns and for some pupils
• Training for staff re new ways of working re COVID-19
• Cleaning plans and supplies for COVID-19: who what when how often
• Appropriate PPE: what it is for settings and staff? PPE supplies need to then be available in appropriate quantities
• Decision need to be made about the safe capacity of individual settings.
• Space in school office? Should admin and clerical staff continue to work from home. What support and equipment will they need.
• Safe drop off and collection plans need to be organised
• School transport plans need to be in place
• Staff room space/cleaning needs to be reviewed
• Equipment sharing; what can be shared and how is it kept clean?
• Changes to staff/child ratios to meet COVID-19 new ways of working
• Utilising more outdoor space: a great deal of work is needed to put more outdoor space into safe use.

Unison West Dunbartonshire Branch

2 comments

  1. The policy in England to return the early years school children together with the first year secondary pupils is an interesting government strategy.

    Now I am no.educationalist or epidemiologist but why send the youngest schoolchildren back to the Petri dish of a school.

    Could it be that sending the children back to school is an attempt to spread herd immunity. Children are particularly immune to Covid19, yes they may carry the virus, may have absolutely have no symptoms, or just maybe just a slight sniffle, so what better way to get the R numbers down down than by allowing children to be extensively exposed to the virus.

    And younger children tend to have younger parents, who whilst not as immune to effects as their kids are, are nevertheless at much less risk than the older teachers and most certainly the grandparents to whom they could spread the virus.

    If correct in this assessment, then once again we are coming back to the concept of sacrificing the older populace, taking it on the chin, losing people before their time. It’s exactly how high Tories think.

    Thankfully, the Scottish Government appears to be taking a much more cautious approach. However, if the Tory high command in Westminster says back to school in Scotland, then back to school will be because all they need to do is turn off the financial tap. And turn off the financial tap they would as a Tory treasury minister opined when he suggested that teachers wages be docked to get them back to school.

    But hey, I’m not really sure if we are too bothered about this. We did vote for it after all. Or did.we?

  2. And meanwhile, taking a leaf out of Dominic Cummings Prime Minister endorsed book I had a big bevy last night.

    And so, to test that I am sober enough to drive today I’m going to take my wife and four year old grandson out for a sixty mile drive.

    It’s what any reasonable grandparent would do! And the Police will agree too!,

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