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If your school was asked to reopen, could you staff it?

(50 Posts)
Appuskidu Fri 10-Apr-20 14:48:52

....if the groups of vulnerable staff were still absent?

I have posted about this a few times and some people seem doubtful that my school situation is widespread so I just wondered what the experience of other teachers on here was?

When the government announced that certain vulnerable groups needed to SI for 12 weeks, we had a big problem as we had so many members of staff in that group. We struggled through the next few days trying to get supply, having extra large classes, having TAs cover classes but it was v difficult-we simply couldn’t find any supply teachers in the end, so presumably other local schools were having the same issues. Thankfully we closed on the Friday anyway, because I think we would have had to say it simply wasn’t safe.

I keep saying posters saying the exit strategy must be to reopen schools but obviously leaving vulnerable groups at home for as long as it takes. I’m not sure schools CAN all reopen until the vulnerable workers are back though. Certainly not within that 12 weeks, but then what about afterwards...?

It’s not just teachers as well-we have a number of EHC plans for children with 1:1 adults. 2/3 of the adults are in their late 50s and have severe lung issues. They are paid shockingly low wages and neither ‘need’ to work-I would think they would both just resign rather than be forced to come back if they felt they weren’t safe.

What’s the situation in your school like?

OP’s posts: |
OxanaVorontsova Fri 10-Apr-20 14:51:06

A few days before all schools were closed we were forced to close to y8 & 9, keeping younger y7 in as well as exam classes due to staffing capacity. I can’t see this being any different now.

TheWooisStrong Fri 10-Apr-20 14:52:28

I could if I had childcare in place. But that would be difficult as my parents wouldn’t be able to have my children.

worldsworststepfordwife Fri 10-Apr-20 14:53:30

Yip my kids school couldn’t even make it Friday only managed to Thursday

user1471468296 Fri 10-Apr-20 14:54:03

We could staff classes (primary) but not our 1:1 children. That would depend on no one else getting ill and nurseries reopening for children's staff.

justanotherneighinparadise Fri 10-Apr-20 14:54:38

I’ve thought the same. Even if schools reopen in September, will they be able to staff them? None of the problems have gone away have they? The vulnerable and still vulnerable.

justanotherneighinparadise Fri 10-Apr-20 14:55:24


user1471468296 Fri 10-Apr-20 14:56:44

Children's staff?? I meant staff's children!

cantkeepawayforever Fri 10-Apr-20 15:11:10

I think it depends.

Looking at this guidance there are two groups - the generally more vulnerable groups who are listed first, and the shorter list of those who should be shielded.

We don't have many 'shielders' (ie the compulsory 12 week in full isolation group), though we do have carers for shielders, who might reasonably not wish to take the daily infections from a class of 32 back home.

We have a LOT (over 50% of the staff when shielders / carers for shielders are included) who are in the next level down - the groups that the government said are at increased risk of severe illness if they catch COVID-19 and thus should be especially careful in social distancing and work from home if at all possible. This is the group - asthmatics, diabetics, pregnant women etc - that employers such as Tesco whose staff are 'on the front line' have sent home on full pay.

The greatest difficulty in staffing in the final week before schools closed was not from vulnerable staff - most continued to come into school, tbh - but those who were in self or family isolation due to new coughs or temperatures.

If we go back to school, there will need to be very significant 'reserve' staffing capacity available to replace staff who develop a cough or temperature, or have to stay at home because someone in their household develops these symptoms, because new infections WILL result when we return to school, and this will very rapidly deplete staff from numbers already decreased by shielders / more vulnerable staff.

PotteringAlong Fri 10-Apr-20 15:13:42

I assume so. The head said we had 96% staff attendance on the day the schools shut (massive secondary school) so I don’t think it would be a problem.

cantkeepawayforever Fri 10-Apr-20 15:15:01

So to be clear, we could re-open with safe numbers if everyone except shielders and their carers returned.

We could not re-open with safe numbers if all those in the longer list of vulnerable groups did not return or were told to stay at home (as has happened in other public-facing employment).

We would not be able to stay open for more than a few days if the guidance on self and family isolation remains the same, unless a huge pool of 'emergency supply staff' were to be available OR rapid testing was available to determine whether a cough / temp is COVID or not.

cantkeepawayforever Fri 10-Apr-20 15:19:04

Pottering, I stayed in school for the final week, despite being in the longer 'vulnerable' list. Cases were still low locally, and concern for my class was grater than concern for myself. It was also clear that schools would close very soon.

I would return as soon as I could IF due risk assessment was done and there were good procedures to protect my health over the following weeks and months. Iwould not, however, return if the Government made a political judgement without due regard for teachers' lives, making statements (as has been done recently) that PPE and testing are unavailable for teachers and that we should expect cleaning materials and soap to be rationed / unavailable.

Aragog Fri 10-Apr-20 15:24:12

If we remove the at risk staff - by at risk I mean those with 'underlying health issues' themselves or someone they care for in their house, it the shielded group:

Without taking into account childcare issues of staff we would have potentially 50-60% ft equivalent of our teachers and TAs available
We'd also have the deputy head but the HT, learning mentor and FT hlta would be absent.

We would have about 60% of our lunch time assistants, not sure about the kitchen staff as they are employed by the nearby school.

We would probably have our full quota of caretakers and cleaner though. And all the office and admin staff are in.

If we add childcare for those with younger children this would decrease a bit.

So we couldn't fully staff the school.

Our biggest issue would also be maintaining social distancing within the classrooms.

Grasspigeons Fri 10-Apr-20 15:30:27

Where i work, we could staff it as we only had one vulnerable person who was a TA. However, the self-isolating rules around temps and coughs were more problamatic. Theres always coughs and colds going round school and teachers with young children find they have temps alot. So unless they relaxed that bit of advice we would have points where we couldnt staff.
The school down the road had a TA and the head left once all the vulnerable people went home! It was a very small school but they were stuffed.

CousinItInTraining Fri 10-Apr-20 16:52:02

We could do it, at a stretch, but it would be impossible to provide the same standard of education. SEN provision would also be hugely compromised.

pascalesco Fri 10-Apr-20 18:02:51

We could just, a few teachers,TAs and caretaker would be off. Some classes would have to be taken by HLTAs or supply. We would not have enough 1:1 support, so would have to relocate class TAs and have some 1:1 TAs supporting 2 children.
Where we would come unstuck is the 14 day isolation if you or someone in your household develops symptoms.

MiniatureRed Fri 10-Apr-20 18:19:38


Before closures we were running on skeleton staff and had to close Y7,8,9 anyway.

MsJaneAusten Fri 10-Apr-20 20:21:35

We managed to stay open until the Friday, but that was at least partly because three big schools locally had already had to close so there was lots of choice of supply. It was a difficult week.

Useruseruserusee Fri 10-Apr-20 20:53:08

Yes and fairly easily too. At the moment anyway.

ScorpionQueen Fri 10-Apr-20 21:06:35

We wouldn't have enough teachers and none of our usual supply were available before closure. We would also struggle with 1:1, cleaning and lunchtimes with so many people vulnerable. That's not even thinking about illness, self isolating or anxiety.

Michaelbaubles Fri 10-Apr-20 21:08:17

We could staff the place but on the day before we closed we had over 10% of students self isolating, and that’s a big issue. Plus it’s totally impossible to social distance in college so that’s a massive worry.

DrMadelineMaxwell Fri 10-Apr-20 21:10:24

If all childcare settings and schools opened at the same time, taking into consideration ONLY the shielding individuals, we would be 2 members of staff down. So some supply costs.
If you also add the 'at risk' group (diabetics/asthmatics etc) then we would be another 7 staff down. That's a lot of supply money, and we don't have that many supply teachers who we can use, especially if the agency staff were being called on by all the schools who were short of staff.

I'm on of the 'at risk' and only just avoided the shielfing letter. I would be expected to 'make the decision myself' to stay away and to follow the advice as it's only advice and not a direction to employers. That's been ok to do while we are only helping staff the rota, but would be a different matter entirely if the class was back in tomorrow - I'd be expected to be in.

oncemorewithfeeling99 Sat 11-Apr-20 22:48:26

Ours could but with the cough and temperature isolation rules in place plus social distancing, I think the sensible thing would be to operate children on a reduced timetable depending on staff levels e.g coming in once or twice a week, home learning in between.

Phineyj Mon 13-Apr-20 08:40:17

For those last couple of weeks, our lowered staff numbers more or less matched our low student attendance (small school, lots of DC with underlying conditions). But the staff available probably wouldn't match the cover required very well. Exposing a lot of staff and some students to public transport would be an issue (central city location) and another issue would be whether we'd have to continue to provide remote learning for the perhaps 1/3 of students not in. It's not really feasible to be simultaneously open and closed.

Appuskidu Mon 13-Apr-20 08:57:37

another issue would be whether we'd have to continue to provide remote learning for the perhaps 1/3 of students not in. It's not really feasible to be simultaneously open and closed

Yes, this worries me too.

A lot of people of the ‘when will schools reopen?’ threads want them to go back asap, but with it being optional, so work continuing to be set for those at home!

I’m not quite sure how that would work?!

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