Fórsa has pressed the Department of Education and Skills (DES) to provide clarity on the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) – like face visors and coverings, gloves and aprons – ahead of the proposed reopening of schools in late August.
The union has also sought clear advice and guidance on the provision of personal and intimate care for students in a Covid-19 environment.
The union continues to meet with the Department of Education and Skills, along with other stakeholders, to discuss the measures necessary to ensure that schools open to the greatest extent possible in late August.
Head of Forsa’s Education division Andy Pike said the union is aware of a number of school staff who have underlying medical conditions, or who are caring for vulnerable dependants in the home: “In these circumstances we’ve requested confirmation as to the continuation of special leave arrangements once schools are opened.
“The key issue the schools sector is the extent to which social distancing can be maintained as this will dictate how many students can access school premises at one time,” he said.
Andy said schools cannot plan effectively until they know what the department policy might be on social distancing in the classroom and other common areas. He added that Fórsa has also made clear that SNAs cannot be expected to carry out deep cleaning in schools: “This is a specialist role and schools should receive additional funding to implement enhanced cleaning regimes,” he said.
Arrangements for the appointment of Lead Worker Representatives (LWRs) to assist with the Covid-19 response in each school are close to being finalised. These arrangements will allow secretaries, caretakers and SNAs to fulfil the role of LWR in schools with more than 30 staff as there will be two LWRs, one for teaching staff and one for non-teaching staff. In smaller schools opportunities will be provided for non-teaching staff to contribute to the Covid-19 response.
Further information will issue to members next week.
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