NIPSA continues to receive numerous reports from members being asked to work unsupervised or to attend their place of work when their school remains closed.

I have raised this with the EA and remind members that the Coronavirus restrictions remain in place and no-one should feel under any pressure to return to schools which are closed.

Closed Schools

I received the following response from the Education Authority:

Some schools which are closed to pupils are required to be open to carry out essential work, for example developing learning resource packs to support continued learning.  Teaching and non-teaching staff should only attend the workplace where the work is essential and where this work cannot be carried out from home.

The health, safety and well-being of our staff is of the upmost importance. Where it is essential that staff need to attend a school, schools and managers are aware that this should be done on a rota basis with as few staff as possible.  Risk assessments should be carried out and guidelines followed to ensure social distancing.

NIPSA continues to monitor the situation and requests that any reports of schools requesting members to return for work for reasons outside those identified above are brought to our immediate attention so that we can raise the matter with the Education Authority.

Special Schools

We have become aware that, in some cases, classroom assistants are expected to be present without the support of teaching staff. NIPSA is opposed to this and has raised this matter with the Education Authority. It is an absolute expectation that teachers must be present in each and every classroom in the school and that classroom assistants and other non-teaching staff should not, under any circumstances, ,be left to look after any classroom without a teacher. I would request that if this is happening in your school that you alert your NIPSA representative so that we can raise it with the Principal and Education Authority.

The Education Authority has confirmed the following:

11 special schools are currently open for pupils.  The Assistant Director Special Education has confirmed that classroom assistants work under the direction of a teacher and there has been no change to this position.  Rotas are made up of both teaching and non-teaching staff.

Alan Law
Assistant Secretary (Acting)