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Returning to work dilemma

(10 Posts)
MissHoney85 Fri 17-Jul-20 08:47:56

I am a Reception teacher and am currently 14 weeks pregnant. I haven't been into school since finding out I am pregnant, following Govt and Union advice. This hasn't been too much of a problem for school so far as we haven't had all children in at any one time, and I have been able to work from home supporting remote learning. However, from September it's anticipated that things will be much more 'normal'. My school have allocated me a class for September and are operating on the assumption that I will be there.

I called my Head yesterday to clarify the situation. She is lovely and is happy to support whatever decision I make. She is happy for me to let her know a week before the start of term.

I miss school dreadfully, and as a Reception teacher feel it's particularly important to be there in those first weeks. However, I'm aware that it's going to be very hard to maintain social distance and children that age have quite poor hygiene. On the other hand, it seems unclear how much they actually spread the virus. It's certainly riskier to be in school than not though.

My OH is very worried about me going back to work. We read the same guidance and articles and come away with totally different perceptions. He sees only the negative, scary bits and I see only the reassuring messages. I know it's ultimately my decision, but he's very persuasive and I would feel terrible if I went to work and his fears came true. He is only happy for me to go back of the Govt / Union advice for pregnant women changes. I just can't see that happening for a long time. I'm not sure I can face 6 months of sitting at home doing nothing.

Any thoughts? I've had a proper sob about it this morning 😟

OP’s posts: |
1990shopefulftm Fri 17-Jul-20 11:35:42

@MissHoney85 what's your maternity leave situation like? The government advice hasn't been updated in a while, the main study they have in the UK is that more people end up in hospital from their 3rd trimester but that was I believe in may and there's not much new data since. It's possible if your school are happy to have a week's warning there could be more long term scientific data then as there would be people who got covid whilst pregnant and their babies would be a few weeks or months to know long term.

I work in an office but decided to go on mat leave at 28 weeks as I m asthmatic so generally anxious about catching it from anyone when I don't have the best lungs anyway and baby is already squashing them.

MissHoney85 Fri 17-Jul-20 12:05:52

@1990shopefulftm My Union guidance is that pregnant women (of any gestation) should be given the option to work from home, and if that's not possible should be medically suspended on full pay. The government guidance is more vague but does say all pregnant women are in the Vulnerable category and should take extra care to observe social distancing, including working from home "where possible". The RCOG says that women in the third trimester should take extra precautions on top of that, i.e. full shielding. I think if I did go back it would be just until 28 weeks. Maternity leave shouldn't be used to cover any of this - I should start that probably at Christmas, when I would have anyway. The Union wouldn't let them make me take it any earlier!

The evidence about the impact on pregnant women and unborn / newly born children is patchy. The main impact seems to be a link between getting it in the third trimester and premature birth. They have just established that it can be transmitted in the uterus however, and I guess they won't know the long term effects on a child for a long time.

OP’s posts: |
Flora20 Fri 17-Jul-20 12:27:45

@MissHoney85 Can I ask what union you are with? I can't find any updated info regarding September (I'm with nasuwt) and am trying to decide what to do. I'll be 34 weeks in September and have been told that government advice is no working from home therefore all staff should be in regardless of circumstances - at the moment I'm thinking of starting maternity leave early as it would only be 3 weeks earlier than anticipated, but working from home would be preferable!

1990shopefulftm Fri 17-Jul-20 12:29:05

@MissHoney85 I think it's really down to how comfortable you ll feel personally at work, they were I believe offering scans for people that had covid originally but not sure that's the case now.

MissHoney85 Fri 17-Jul-20 12:35:27

@Flora20 I'm with NEU but I think the NASUWT guidance is basically the same. I asked the NEU if there were any plans to update it for September and they said it will remain as it is until the Government guidance changes. I can't see them taking pregnant women out of the Vulnerable category - there just isn't enough info out there, they would be opening themselves up to a whole load of trouble if it turns out further down the line that there is a problem. The Government advice at the moment is very much not 'no working from home' so I would query whoever told you that! They are trying to encourage people back (for the economy, not because it's any safer) but the social distancing guidelines still stand, especially for those in the Vulnerable category.

OP’s posts: |
LatteLover12 Fri 17-Jul-20 12:40:53

The NEU guidance will be updated in line with the next DfE guidance when it is released on August 1st.

I think you should speak to your HT about teaching in a different year group as EYFS are not expected to maintain social distancing.

At your gestation you are realistically at no greater danger than anyone else unless you have any other underlying conditions such as asthma or cardiac illness.

You should be given an individual risk assessment in liaison with occupational health if necessary.

When you reach your third trimester you will need to reassess your risk in discussion with your HT and whatever the govt and NEU guidance is then.

Good luck OP

MissHoney85 Fri 17-Jul-20 12:45:55

@LatteLover12 thanks for that, interesting to know that the guidance will be updated soon. Unfortunately year groups and classes for next year have already been finalised and parents informed, so a bit late to change. That would have been a good plan though! It's less the risk to me than risk to the baby I'm worried about - who knows what the long term effects might be, we won't know for a long time. Good idea about the risk assessment, I will ask school if the borough have a standard one (don't want to give my poor Head more to do!).

OP’s posts: |
LatteLover12 Fri 17-Jul-20 13:00:31

No problem, the guidance that came out most recently did say that vulnerable staff (eg pregnant, asthmatic and evening BAME) should avoid early years.

Have you seen the info from the RCOG? That might be useful to share with your HT too.

heartonastring Fri 17-Jul-20 13:03:18

I'm going to be 35 weeks when we return in sept. Initially, my school suggested I take mat leave so that I dont have to return in sept, however I had already informed them that I would be taking mat leave 2 weeks before the baby is due.
They've updated their risk assessment that no pregnant staff are allowed on site so I won't be back until next may!

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