Created on: 10 Aug 2020 | Last modified: 15 Jul 2021
EIS advice on risk assessments was issued last week to school reps (see below).
As schools reopen it is essential that updated risk assessments have been carried out by the employer and that staff and teacher trade unions are fully consulted on their content.
This comprehensive EIS checklist should be used to identify any shortcomings which requires to be rectified.
As you will know the EIS has conducted a member survey, again see below for the link. A headline summary indicates that whilst two-thirds of members support the decision to reopen schools only 1 in 5 feels confident that sufficient safety mitigations are in place.
Clearly this demonstrates that teachers understand the harm done to pupils by not being in school and wish to see that addressed, whilst at the same time expressing very real concern and anxiety about personal and pupil safety.
Not only do we need to see more mitigations in place – and testing, smaller class sizes and the use of face coverings were to the fore – we also need the planned safeguards in areas such as cleaning regimes, hygiene, and Test and Protect, all delivered as promised. Currently the majority of members are not confident they will be.
Local authorities have a clear duty of care to staff, however, and any failure on their part to deliver the mitigations will be challenged directly by the EIS.
We are discussing with the Scottish Government the findings of the survey, with a view to securing agreement on further safeguards.
It is true that current levels of infection in Scottish society are relatively low, but as the Aberdeen outbreak highlights, things can change quickly so the mitigations in schools need to be as robust as they can be and they must be implemented.
Three key points to remember:
Teachers who are in a vulnerable category (16% of members) are entitled to bespoke risk assessments with subsequent mitigations. These could include remote working or alternative duties, smaller sections, face coverings being required by pupils and staff in designated classrooms, PPE, additional protections such as screens etc.
These are difficult, challenging times but please be assured that we will use the collective strength and voice of the EIS to navigate through them.
The EIS has issued updated advice on the risk assessments which require to be in place for schools reopening to pupils, based on the Scottish Government's Guidance document.
If any branch is unsatisfied with the risk assessment for its establishment this should be raised as quickly as possible with both the local authority and the EIS Local Association Secretary.
Councils have been given flexibility to phase pupil returns over a full week. The EIS has urged them to use this flexibility to maximise safety precautions and to address any issues arising from risk assessments.