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Covid

Andy Haynes, H&S Advisor
3rd September 2021

The government's blasé attitude can only be deplored but although they seem to want us to carry on regardless there is every reason for schools to keep as many mitigations in place as possible. They must remember that, as employers, they have the legal duty to protect the welfare of their employees and those that enter their premises.

Risk Assessments must continue to be updated every time circumstances change. The LA agree with us that people should err on the side of caution when they feel unwell. The idea that you should go into work because you've only got a cold is completely wrong when it is reported that many of the early symptoms of the Delta Variant mimic those of a cold. If you see someone in school who you suspect is unwell you should consider alerting management.

The early ideas about how the virus is transmitted have been revised based on new evidence. It's now known that aerosol transmission is responsible for infection in the majority of cases.

Good ventilation is essential.

There needs to be a supply of fresh air from outside, preferably through windows but mechanical ventilation should be used if necessary.

Systems that recirculate stale air must not be used.

Fans may be used to aid air circulation in a room where there is a source of fresh air but not otherwise.

Carbon dioxide monitors are useful to identify areas with poor ventilation but they do not solve the problem.

Air filtration systems and portable air filters can be used providing the filters are the correct standard.

Rooms should be ventilated before and after teaching sessions and between lessons if possible.

If staff or students wish to wear face masks that filter the air they must be allowed to do so. Remember that transparent face shields do not protect from aerosol transmission and in most cases do little to help prevent infection. The exception to this is when you are dealing with an individual who is liable to spit, cough or sneeze. Someone who was previously classed as CEV, or anyone else who feels especially at risk, is entitled to have an individual risk assessment. It will help if they seek medical advice so that the RA is properly informed.

If you believe that you are suffering from Long Covid try to get a proper medical diagnosis of this. As this is likely to lead to periods of sick leave and/or reduced performance at work contact the union for support. It may be that you will qualify for reasonable adjustments under the Equalities Act.

Joint union safety checklist
Guidance for staff at greater risk
Ventilation guidance

 

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