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Advice to Members Working In Education 3/1/22

Dear GMB Member,

Yet again we face another critical moment in the pandemic, with the Omicron variant spreading rapidly. GMB’s priority, as always, is to protect education, and this means keeping staff and students as safe as possible from the impact of the virus.

In recent days, GMB met with other education unions and agreed a joint statement calling for urgent additional mitigation measures to be introduced in schools to help keep you and pupils safe and to ensure schools can stay open. The Government has responded to our calls for action by announcing some further measures, namely:

  • Recommending that face coverings be worn by pupils and staff in Secondary classrooms and other teaching areas.
  • 7,000 air cleaning units to be rolled out  to classrooms across the country.
  • Ofsted Inspection changes.

Whilst GMB welcomes these changes, they clearly fall short of what we were asking for and, once again, it is another knee jerk reaction by a shambolic Government. It is too little, too late.

Once again, Risk Assessments will be key to  keeping you safe:

It is a critical and legal requirement that leaders review and update risk assessments, in consultation with union reps and staff. GMB urge you to check with your Head Teacher on your first day back to ensure that:

  • Revised procedures have been clearly communicated to staff, students, parents/carers, and their implementation monitored.
  • In special schools, revised risk assessments should fully reflect the additional challenges in protecting pupils and staff, particularly where pupils are unable to wear face coverings.
  • In secondary schools, a staggered start for the new term may be necessary to ensure every pupil is tested on site.
  • The position of the most vulnerable staff should be addressed through individual risk assessments. Until we know more about the effects of the Omicron variant, although it is not a government requirement, GMB urge all employers to permit staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable and pregnant women to work from home. Vulnerable staff should also be offered the option of a non-front- facing role with FFP2/FFP3 masks provided by the school.

If this has not been done, you need to  contact your GMB Rep or Officer immediately.

GMB expect staff shortages to be a problem in schools due to Covid related absences. If, as a result of this, you are asked to take on additional duties or responsibilities, they have to be discussed with you first.

GMB advice is to only agree if you have been trained appropriately and you should also be paid accordingly for the additional roles/responsibilities. If you have  any concerns regarding what you are being told or asked to do, contact your GMB Rep or Officer as a matter of urgency.

All updated bulletins, guidance and checklists  will be available on the GMB Website which can be accessed here.

Best wishes,
Avril Chambers
GMB National Officer

Posted: 4th January 2022

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