05 January 2021

Coronavirus Update

Dear Colleague

Best wishes for 2021. I hope that you managed some respite over the holiday period despite the restrictions in place.

We face a renewed challenge as the year starts but nurture a hope of improvement with the rollout of the vaccine programme.

Please find below a brief update following the announcement yesterday afternoon by the First Minister.

Stay safe.

Larry

Schools

Members will be aware of the decision by the Scottish Government to move to national lockdown, including an extension of the planned move to remote learning for most school pupils until at least the end of January (this date will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis). The catalyst to the decision is clearly the impact of the new Covid variant which has accelerated infection levels, creating increased pressure on the NHS and heightening the risk of transmission across the board.

The EIS press response can be found here.

Given the rapidity with which the Scottish Government decision was made, coupled with the holiday period, there was little consultation about the detailed implications of the new arrangements, although discussions are now ongoing and the Covid Education Recovery Group (CERG) plans to meet on Thursday to discuss a range of issues including ASN provision; supporting disadvantaged young people with remote learning; SQA matters; teachers on supply lists; enhanced risk assessments; vaccination prioritisation; vulnerable and pregnant teachers; definition of key workers and a range of other issues.

Local Association Secretaries are involved, also, in LNCT discussions with individual Councils, including around matters related to childcare for the children of teachers who are required to be in school buildings.

The EIS Executive meets on Friday and will consider a report from the CERG meeting, following which a member ebulletin will be issued.

Extant advice across a range of areas, including remote learning and working from home, remains valid and can be found on the EIS website.

Some immediate key points to bear in mind:

  1. Unless providing support / education for vulnerable children or children of key workers, members should be working from home, although school buildings may be visited to retrieve critical material.
  2. Previously shielding members have been advised by Scottish Government to resume shielding and where it is not possible to work from home, to not be at work.
  3. In light of the potential higher risk from the new variant, revised risk assessments should be sought for those working in school e.g. in relation to physical distancing amongst pupils.

FE & HE

Separate discussions are already taking place with the Scottish Government on colleges and higher education, which are not covered directly by CERG. The EIS has expressed the view in both sectors that remote teaching and learning should apply throughout the lockdown period. The Scottish Government has written to stakeholders in the further and higher education sectors to state that it will be reviewing the guidance for the tertiary sector this week and that, “Our fundamental advice, for everyone, is to stay at home.”





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