“The EIS is clear that members should not be returning to school buildings before there has been a deep clean of schools which have been closed and risk assessments, in all buildings, have been carried out with any subsequent actions addressed.”
Larry Flanagan, 29th May: https://www.eis.org.uk/Messages-From-The-General-Secretary/Update2905
Schools should not reopen until individual school risk assessments have been agreed between HT and a union rep. HT should issue the RA to all staff. Union reps must consult branch members on the risk assessment prior to agreeing it. You can do this via an online meeting, phone calls, text, or email.
If the Council is not engaging with a local association on re-opening then you can send them the template letter drafted by David Belsey and emailed to LA Secs on 4th June 2020.
If a school does not have a union rep, then the LA secretary may be asked to agree the risk assessment.
It would be useful to speak to Unions representing other members of school community. Do the cleaning staff think they will be able to undertake a deep clean and/or enhanced cleaning schedule? If they don’t think this is realistic, raise this with HT or with your LA Secretary (who can take it to the local authority).
If you are unable to agree the RA or it is not adhered to then speak to your LA Secretary immediately. They will be able to raise this with the Council and hopefully work collegiately to find a solution. Put your concerns in writing to the HT.
Speak to your Area Officer for advice around invoking s44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. Template letters will be issued to members who believe that there is a serious and imminent danger to them if they return to the school building.
Once buildings are open, teaching staff should not be in the school building en masse, therefore, or without specific reason. They should only be in to undertake prep work for next session, for HUB care purposes, or to work with transition pupils. Arrangements for any increased childcare and transition pupils should be agreed via LNCT and/or with HTs.
Teaching staff may be undertaking four different streams of work in June – childcare, working from home, preparation in the school building, or transition work in the school buildings. They should only be in school, in groups which allow social distancing to take place at all times.
NHS guidance is that those who are ill, self-isolating, or shielding due to being critically extremely vulnerable should stay at home. Everyone else can go to their workplace, but they should work at home if possible. Try to negotiate that all of those who are vulnerable (including BAME members – see separate EIS guidance and risk assessment), those with caring responsibilities, those who are particularly anxious, and those who live with someone who is shielding should be working from home. If they need access to the school building, then this should be limited, and they should have their own personalised risk assessments.
You will need to start negotiating for August return too. More guidance on blended learning, ASN schools, EY years, peripatetic teachers, WTAs, mental health and working from home will be issued by EIS nationally on this. A two-stage Health and Safety training course will also be offered mid-June and August by EIS.
Ensure that there is consultation on the risk assessment with HT.
Consult with branch members.
Consider the points outlined in the EIS ‘Healthy Workplace Checklist’ to ensure that relevant Health and Safety issues have been appropriately identified.
Meet with HT to agree on a satisfactory risk assessment.
If there is not a risk assessment in place, or it does not adequately address the concerns of members, or is not followed, then your local association secretary should be informed by the school rep or nominated individual.
If there is reasonable believe that a return would put someone at serious and imminent danger, seek advice from your local association secretary or Area Officer immediately.