Attendance for staff and pupils
Risk assessments
Face coverings and PPE
Symptoms, test and trace
Conditions and employment

 

Attendance for staff and pupils

Which learners will be attending settings from 12 April 2021? (Wales)

All learners will be able to attend their educational setting from 12 April 2021.

In situations where the normal setting has temporarily closed as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, learners whose parents are critical workers and those learners who are designated as vulnerable should be able to attend an educational setting from the third day of the closure of their normal provision.

Guidance in terms of vulnerable learners and critical workers can be found at:

Which staff should be attending schools and colleges? (Wales)

With effect from 12 April 2021, the Welsh Government has removed the general advice that educational workers should work from home where possible. Pregnant workers are the only specified exception to this.

The emphasis has moved to requiring school leaders to communicate and reassure with regard to the measures they have put in place to manage potential risks (see Risk Assessments below).

Clinically extremely vulnerable staff

From 1 April 2021, the Welsh Government has ‘paused’ current advice and stated that clinically extremely vulnerable staff can return to work. However, such staff are still required to follow the published guidance, available at Guidance on protecting people defined on medical grounds as clinically extremely vulnerable from coronavirus (COVID-19) - previously known as ‘shielding’.

Staff who are at increased risk

The Welsh Government has advised that staff who are at increased risk ‘can continue to attend school’ and should follow the mitigating measures to minimise the risks of transmission.

Pregnant women

Pregnant women continue to be advised to work from home where possible. Employers are required to undertake a workplace risk assessment specifically for female employees of childbearing age and to manage any risks presented.

As part of the risk assessment process, employers should consider adapting the duties of those who are pregnant or facilitating home working. Pregnant women of 28 weeks’ gestation or with underlying health conditions may be at even greater risk. Please see the latest Welsh Government guidance Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for pregnant employees.

If you are required to attend your normal workplace but it is not possible to adhere to the prevention and mitigation measures, you should contact the NASUWT Wales/Cymru Centre for further advice.

Do I have to attend work if I am clinically extremely vulnerable? (Wales)

From 1 April 2021, the Welsh Government has ‘paused’ current advice and stated that all clinically extremely vulnerable staff can return to work.

Such staff are still required to follow the published guidance at Guidance on protecting people defined on medical grounds as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus.

If your employer requires your on-site attendance, ask for a copy of the relevant risk assessment and contact the NASUWT Wales/Cymru National Centre if you are concerned that risks are not being addressed.

I am clinically extremely vulnerable and have been told to stay at home. Will I still get paid? (Wales)

You should get paid. The Welsh Government Operational Guidance is clear that if you are working, even if this is at home, you should still receive your normal pay.

If your employer is refusing to pay you, contact the NASUWT Wales/Cymru National Centre.

I live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable. Do I have to attend work? (Wales)

Those living with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable can still attend work where home working is not possible.

However, you should be able to ensure that good Covid-19 prevention practice can be maintained in the workplace and home setting. Required prevention practices are detailed in The System of Controls section of The Welsh Government Operational guidance for schools and settings from 12 April.

If it is not possible to maintain prevention practices and your employer still insists on your attending work, ask for a copy of your employer’s risk assessment and contact the NASUWT Wales/Cymru National Centre.

I am classed as clinically vulnerable, yet I want to work on the school site. My school tells me I cannot do so and have to work from home. Can they insist on this? (Wales)

Yes. Your employer is responsible for your health and safety at work and if they cannot reasonably manage this, they can ask for you to work from home. You should still receive your full pay during this time.

However, the Welsh Government’s position has altered with effect from April and there is a greater expectation that clinically vulnerable staff may be able to attend the workplace.

Your employer will need to clearly explain to you why they still need you to work from home. Clearly, there are many reasons why working from home may present difficulties and if you have concerns about your employer’s request, ask for a copy of your employer’s risk assessment and contact your NASUWT Wales/Cymru National Centre for further advice.

I am pregnant and my school is expecting my return to full on-site duties along with all other staff. Can they insist on this? (Wales)

In some circumstances, they can. However, from April 2021, pregnant women are the only category of worker that the Welsh Government continues to advise to work from home where possible.

Employers are required to undertake a workplace risk assessment specifically for female employees of childbearing age and to manage any risks presented. As part of the risk assessment process, employers should consider adapting the duties of those who are pregnant or facilitating home working. Pregnant women of 28 weeks’ gestation or with underlying health conditions may be at even greater risk. Please see the latest Welsh Government guidance Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for pregnant employees.

Please also see NASUWT’s guidance for pregnant teachers Pregnancy and Maternity Leave During the Covid-19 Pandemic.

If your employer insists on your attendance at work and you are concerned that the risks are not appropriately managed, get a copy of the employer’s relevant risk assessment and contact the NASUWT Wales/Cymru National Centre.

Risk assessments

What measures must schools and colleges put in place to minimise the risks of Covid-19 transmission? (Wales)

Local authorities, schools and settings must comply with health and safety law, which requires them to assess risks and put in place proportionate control measures. Schools, along with their local authority, should thoroughly review their risk assessments to ensure they continue to address the risks identified in the system of controls, with which schools and settings will now be familiar.

The main measures are:

  • a requirement that people stay at home and self-isolate if they have symptoms of Covid-19, have tested positive, have been advised by NHS Wales Test Trace Protect (TTP) to do so, are household members of a positive case, or are required to self-isolate for travel-related reasons;

  • adopting robust hand and respiratory hygiene practices with learners and staff members;

  • ensuring appropriate ventilation measures on school premises;

  • continuing thorough cleaning arrangements;

  • active engagement with TTP strategy;

  • formal consideration of how to reduce contacts and maximise social and physical distancing wherever possible;

  • putting in place appropriate measures to minimise the potential for contamination so far as is reasonably practicable.

More details are set out in the Government's Operational guidance for schools and settings from 12 April.

What are the social distancing requirements for schools and colleges? (Wales)

Social distancing is one of the key mitigations against the spread of Covid-19 and is applicable in schools and educational settings.

The educational setting’s risk assessment must undertake formal consideration of how to maximise social distancing between those in school wherever possible.

This should include:

  • staff maintaining social distance from other staff;

  • contact groups not mixing;

  • making small adaptations to the classroom to support distancing where possible that could include seating learners side by side and facing forward, rather than face-to-face or side on, or perhaps removing unnecessary furniture to make more space;

  • staff maintaining social distancing from learners as much as possible, recognising this may not be possible with younger learners. This may not also be possible for some learners in special schools and some learners with special educational needs. For specific guidance on this, see Guidance for supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged learners;

  • arrangements to enable older learners to maintain social distance from each other as well as staff members wherever possible, alongside other control measures. Schools could consider making use of available additional spaces in the school when planning contact groups to be able to uphold social distancing, for example, plan for split classes.

Please see the Government's Operational guidance schools and settings from 12 April.

What rules should schools follow when organising contact groups for school activities? (Wales)

Wales NHS has provided Guidance on contact grouping for secondary schools (pdf).

In general, schools and settings should ensure:

  • grouping learners together in as small a group as possible. For example, for learners in primary schools, this is likely to be the size of the class. In secondary schools, the size of groups will be influenced by a number of factors including total number of learners and timetabling arrangements;

  • avoiding mixing between separate contact groups;

  • staff maintaining social distance from other staff;

  • staff maintaining social distancing from learners as much as possible, recognising this may not be possible with younger learners or for some learners in special schools and learners with special educational needs;

  • making the most of the space available, including outdoor space.

What are the rules for ventilation of school and college buildings? (Wales)

Health and safety law states that employers must make sure there is an adequate supply of fresh air (ventilation) in enclosed areas of the workplace.

Schools and settings are expected to ensure appropriate ventilation at all times and they should consider ventilation alongside the other control measures needed to reduce risks of transmission. This should be evident in the risk assessment.

Ventilation can be achieved by a variety of measures, including mechanical ventilation, e.g. fan-driven air movers, and natural ventilation, e.g. opening doors and windows.

More detailed Government information on Operational guidance for schools and settings from 12 April.

Does my school still have to cater for vulnerable learners and the children of key workers? (Wales)

Whilst all learners will be able to access on-site provision from 12 April, provision will need to continue to be made for vulnerable learners and the children of key workers to attend an educational setting from the third school day of a closure if it must temporarily close due to staff shortages as a result of cases of coronavirus or because of staff/pupil self-isolation requirements.

Please see the Government's Schools coronavirus guidance.

Should my school update its risk assessments because of the new variants? (Wales)

Educational sites should be constantly reviewing and, if need be, updating their risk assessments in response to changes in Government guidance and local conditions.

The Government is clear that schools will need to review their risk assessments to ensure that appropriate mitigations are in place to ensure the school learning environment remains as Covid-safe as possible for the increased number of learners in line with their published guidance.

Please see the Government’s Schools coronavirus guidance.

Face coverings and PPE

When do staff need to wear face coverings? (Wales)

Schools are under a duty to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus: the use of face coverings, by staff and learners, where relevant, can be one of those measures.

If social distancing cannot be maintained, face coverings should be worn anywhere on the school estate, including in the classroom, by staff at primary and secondary schools.

Further Government advice is available on Schools coronavirus guidance: Face coverings.

When do learners need to wear face coverings? (Wales)

Schools are under a duty to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus: the use of face coverings, by staff and learners, where relevant, can be one of those measures.

If social distancing cannot be maintained, face coverings should be worn anywhere on the school estate, including in the classroom, by learners in secondary schools. The exception is at meal times and when they are outside, unless the school risk assessment indicates that such additional measures are needed.

Check with your site’s risk assessment if you are unsure.

Further Government advice is available on Schools coronavirus guidance: Face coverings.

When may I need to wear PPE? (Wales)

The use of protective personal equipment (PPE) by staff within education settings should be based on a clear assessment of risk, taking into account each individual setting and the needs of the individual learner. Educational settings should already have a risk assessment that identifies the need for the use of PPE.

Broadly, PPE should be used when dealing with suspected Covid-19 cases in learners and when giving personal care to a child.

All staff should have been trained how to put on or remove PPE in the right order, safely dispose of the waste, and use correct hand hygiene steps to reduce the risk of onward transmission of infection.

If I am in close contact with pupils on a regular basis should my school provide me with PPE? (Wales)

The Government claims that no PPE is required when undertaking routine educational activities in classroom or school settings.

Your educational setting should, through their risk assessment, have the necessary mitigations in place to reduce transmission and this includes social distancing. Therefore, close contact with pupils should not be an occurrence unless it is part of personal care for a young child, at which point PPE should be used.

If I wear a face covering, does that mean that there doesn’t need to be social distancing? (Wales)

No. All staff should adhere to the social distancing measures as far as possible. In circumstances where this may not be possible, for example with younger learners or those with special educational needs, high-quality three-layer face coverings should be worn by staff members.

Face coverings should also be worn in the classroom by staff and learners in secondary schools where social distancing arrangements cannot be maintained, as well as in all areas of the school building outside the classroom.

Do pupils have to wear face coverings at all times? (Wales)

If social distancing cannot be maintained, face coverings should be worn anywhere on the school estate, including in the classroom by secondary school learners. The exception is at mealtimes and when they are outside, unless the school risk assessment indicates that additional measures are needed.

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales has only recommended the use of face coverings in secondary schools and secondary school age settings rather than mandated such use.

The use of face coverings should still be subject to a local risk assessment in the school or setting. It can provide additional protection where other physical controls such as social distancing and reduced contact cannot be or are unlikely to be maintained.

Are visitors allowed? Do they have to wear face coverings? (Wales)

Yes, visitors are allowed and there should be provision for them in the setting’s risk assessment.

Broadly, visitors to the school setting should use a face covering, adhere to site guidance on social distancing/hygiene, and log their presence to adhere to the Government’s TTP strategy.

Where possible, visits should happen outside of school hours.

Symptoms, test and trace

What should happen if staff or learners develop symptoms of Covid-19? (Wales)

Schools have been told not to disclose the identities of people testing positive for Covid-19.

However, the school should have contacted immediately on learning of a positive test the dedicated advice service for advice on the action to be taken. They will conduct a rapid risk assessment and identify the appropriate next steps. With support from the Health Protection Team (HPT), the school will identify the close contacts of the individual who has tested positive. Contact tracers will inform contacts that they need to self-isolate.

If you are aware of the person’s identity, and you believe you are a close contact, i.e. been closer than two metres for 15 minutes or closer than one metre for any length of time other than transitory contact, but have not been told to self-isolate, you should alert the headteacher/principal, who should then take advice from the relevant authorities.

If your school has appropriate Covid-19 secure practices in place, all adults in the school should have been distancing and if the two-metre distancing has been maintained with your colleague, then the risk is minimal. Teachers are advised, where possible, to maintain distancing with pupils, if distancing has not been maintained with the pupil in your class, you need to ensure that the school is aware of this.

If you have downloaded the NHS Test and Trace app, you may get an alert from this with advice on what action to take.

Where a staff member or learner becomes unwell at the school or setting with possible symptoms of Covid-19, they should be sent home immediately to self-isolate and arrange a Covid-19 test. Until they leave the school or setting, in the case of a learner, when they are collected by a parent/carer, their contact with all other individuals at the setting should be minimised. If possible, ensure they remain in a separate room until they are able to leave the setting.

I have received contact from the NHS Test and Trace app which tells me that I have to self-isolate for 10 days. Do I have to follow the information on the app or the advice from my employer? (Wales)

If you receive information on the app, you must follow the information you are given on the app. This is part of the Government’s public health Test and Trace Strategy and therefore takes priority over any local advice.

If you are told that you will need to isolate for 10 days, then you must do so. If your employer queries this, you are able to obtain an isolation note to give to your employer. This service is available on the NHS website, where it sets out who is eligible to receive the isolation note and how to access one. There is also a facility for employers to check the validity of the isolation note.

While you are self-isolating, you should continue to receive your normal pay and you should make clear to your employer that you are available to work from home. There is no need to obtain a fit note or to go on sick leave as you are not sick.

You do not need a Covid-19 test if you are not showing symptoms, unless directed to do so by a medical professional. If you develop coronavirus symptoms while you are self-isolating, you must take advice using the NHS website, NHS 111 or through the Test and Trace app.

If you have no symptoms at the end of the 10 days, you do not need a Covid-19 test and can stop self-isolating.

What should happen if staff and learners have no symptoms but members of their household have symptoms of Covid-19 or have tested positive for Covid-19? (Wales)

Supporting the Health Protection Regulations, employers should allow or enable a person to self-isolate if they have tested positive for Covid-19, live in a household where another household member has Covid-19 symptoms or has tested positive, or have been notified by the TTP service that they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

If I provide intimate care to pupils, should I be vaccinated? (Wales)

The Welsh Government has agreed that staff whose role is to provide intimate personal care for vulnerable children with complex medical needs will be included as part of the priority list for vaccination.

What are the rules on the Test, Trace and Protect Strategy in Wales?

Details of the Welsh Government’s Test, Trace and Protect strategy are on the Welsh Government’s website.

Essential measures include a requirement that people stay at home and self-isolate if they:

  • have symptoms of Covid-19, whether they feel unwell or not;

  • have tested positive, even if asymptomatic;

  • have been advised by NHS Wales Test Trace Protect (TTP) to do so;

  • are household members of a positive case, even if that case is asymptomatic;

  • are required to self-isolate for travel-related reasons.

Are staff and learners required to undertake regular lateral flow tests? (Wales)

The Welsh Government will be making rapid-result Covid-19 tests available to all staff working in schools and settings, including school transport operators, peripatetic teachers and supply staff, from February 2021.

Test-at-home kits will be offered to all schools and settings in order for staff to take twice-weekly tests. Testing is voluntary, but again the Welsh Government is strongly encouraging those who are eligible for tests to participate to further reduce the risk of asymptomatic transmission within the workplace.

What action should be taken if a lateral flow test is positive for Covid-19? (Wales)

This is an extract from the Welsh Government Operational Guidance:

Anyone who tests positive using a Lateral Flow Test (LFT) must not attend a school or setting. They and everyone they live with must self-isolate immediately according to the self-isolation guidance whilst they undertake the following actions:

  • report the test result online

  • book a follow up PCR test through the online booking portal.

  • notify their setting of the result.

  • for staff - notify other organisations as per the guidance for the sector (local authorities or CIW)

They will be contacted by the local contact tracing team to identify contacts who will need to self-isolate - they must follow any advice given by the local contact tracing team.

Do I have to take a Covid-19 test? Can I be disciplined for not taking a test? (Wales)

Taking a test is voluntary and therefore staff cannot be disciplined for not taking a test.

Can supply teachers get access to rapid-result tests? (Wales)

Yes, supply teachers are included in the Welsh Government testing offer.

If a member of staff or pupil tests positive, should the site close? (Wales)

The Welsh Government guidance says that a positive test on site does not require closure of that site.

The latest information can be found on the Welsh Government website.

If I have tested positive or have to self-isolate, can this trigger sickness absences reviews? (Wales)

Members who show symptoms of Covid-19 and are required to self-isolate are on authorised leave not on sick leave, until such time as they may test positive for Covid-19.

Members who are required to self-isolate because a member of their family is self-isolating or has tested positive for Covid-19 are not on sick leave as they are following Government requirements and are available for work from home.

The NASUWT believes that in this situation, employers should be flexible where members cannot attend work because they have been diagnosed with Covid-19.

Where an employee's absence triggers action under the employer's absence management policy, Covid-19-related absence should be disregarded for the purposes of the employer’s absence threshold at which formal action is triggered under the policy.

Furthermore, employees should not be requested to provide evidence of sickness absence such as a fit note from their GP in these circumstances.

Where an employer is not prepared to be flexible, please contact the NASUWT for further advice and support.

Conditions and employment

Can my headteacher/employer require me to do different types of work or different duties at this time? (Wales)

The Welsh Government's Operational Guidance states that although schools and settings may need to alter the way in which they deploy their staff and use existing staff more flexibly, managers should discuss and agree any changes to staff roles with individuals.

Flexibility in deployment should not lead to individuals operating outside the scope of their role. It is important that planning builds in the need to avoid increases in unnecessary and unmanageable workload burdens.

As a PPA teacher, should I have to teach/cover several/more than one class? (Wales)

Minimising contact and mixing between people reduces the transmission of Covid-19. This continues to be important in all contexts and schools and settings must continue to consider how to implement this and do everything possible to minimise contact and mixing.

The overarching principle to apply in any school/setting is reducing the number of contacts between children and staff, as well as between staff, and keeping contact groups separate. Schools and settings should maintain and not mix contact groups.

Consistent groups reduce the risk of transmission by limiting the number of learners and staff in contact with each other to only those within the group. They have been used to date in recognition that children, especially the youngest children, cannot socially distance from staff or from each other and maintaining and not mixing contact groups provides an additional protective measure.

Maintaining distinct contact groups that do not mix also makes it quicker and easier in the event of a positive case to identify those who may need to self-isolate and keep that number as small as possible.

Staff responsible for younger learners should remain with set contact groups. Only under exceptional circumstances should staff interchange between different groups. All staff should adhere to the social/physical distancing measures as far as possible.

Can I be asked to clean my room/toilets/dining halls? (Wales)

These are not part of teachers’ duties set out in the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions (Wales) Document.

The Welsh Government Operational Guidance contains advice on enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often using standard products, such as detergents.

The NASUWT maintains that additional staff should be deployed for these tasks.

Schools and settings should follow the latest Government advice on cleaning in non-healthcare settings outside the home. Points to consider and implement include:

  • putting in place a cleaning schedule that ensures cleaning is generally enhanced and involves:
    • more frequent cleaning of rooms and shared areas after they have been used by a different group;

    • frequently touched surfaces being cleaned more often than normal;

  • where possible, providing separate toilets for different contact groups.

Can supply/peripatetic teachers move between schools? (Wales)

Yes, they can.

The Welsh Government Operational Guidance says that supply teachers, peripatetic teachers and other temporary staff can move between schools. They should ensure they minimise contact and maintain social distance from other staff and learners wherever possible.

Please also see the Government's Operational guidance for schools and settings from 12 April.

Should I be taking pupils books home to mark? (Wales)

It has been established by public health authorities in the UK that the virus responsible for Covid-19 can remain active on contaminated surfaces, ‘although the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surfaces is likely to have decreased significantly by 24 hours and even more so by 48 hours’.

It is, therefore, essential that schools have effective processes in place to manage the risks to staff and pupils of handing paper, including exercise books and worksheets, that may have come into contact with the virus.

Given that teachers and school leaders often come into contact with exercise books and worksheets that have been handled by others, particularly when marking pupils’ work, it is important that these practices are assessed for the Covid-related risks they might pose.

The Welsh Government Operational Guidance does say that ‘learners and staff can take books and other shared resources home, although unnecessary sharing should be avoided, especially where this does not contribute to learners’ education and development. Similar rules on handwashing, cleaning of the resources and rotation should apply to these resources.’

Please see the Government’s Operational guidance for schools and settings from 12 April.

The NASUWT advises that the following considerations are particularly important:

  • The core principle should be to minimise contact with potentially contaminated surfaces, including paper, as far as possible. The starting point in schools’ approaches should be to consider whether the quantity of marking teachers and school leaders are expected to undertake is currently necessary. The NASUWT has been clear that many existing marking practices in schools in normal circumstances are excessive, burdensome and add little to pupil progress and achievement. The Union continues to recommend full implementation of the recommendations of the DfE-endorsed Eliminating Unnecessary Workload Around Marking Report of the Expert Advisory Group on Teacher Workload. Although these recommendations were developed in the context of the education system in England, they represent minimum standards of good practice in any circumstances.

  • Schools must also consider whether there are ways in which feedback can be given to pupils without marking exercise books or worksheets. The increasing use of technology in teaching and learning during the Covid-19 crisis has supported the development of good practice in this respect and has considerably reduced the need for ‘pen and paper’ marking and feedback approaches.

The decision about whether or not learning and feedback approaches require the handling of paper-based work undertaken by pupils should be driven by the professional judgements of teachers.

Where teachers determine that handling of paper-based work is unavoidable, they should follow good Covid-control practices. These include:

  • handwashing or sanitising before and after handling such materials;

  • avoiding touching their faces with hands that have not been washed or sanitised; and

  • under no circumstances taking pupils’ exercise books or paper worksheets home.

What can I do if changes have made my workload unbearable? (Wales)

Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, excessive workload and poor wellbeing were cited by teachers and school leaders across the UK as among their main concerns about the quality of their working lives.

Not only have many of the causes of these concerns remained relevant during the pandemic, they have also been exacerbated by the extraordinary pressures that Covid-19 has placed on schools and the staff who work in them.

The need to adapt quickly to rapidly changing circumstances, while facing the same range of challenges that Covid-19 brought to every other member of society, has placed unprecedented demands on the UK’s teachers and school leaders.

More on the NASUWT guidance on workload and the pandemic can be found on our Workload, Wellbeing and Covid-19 web page.

The Welsh Government Operational Guidance states:

‘Managers should discuss and agree any changes to staff roles with individuals. It is important that planning builds in the need to avoid increases in unnecessary and unmanageable workload burdens. This could include a review of existing practices in this respect.’

Please also see the Government's Operational guidance for schools and settings from 12 April.

Should I be running breakfast or after-school clubs? (Wales)

The Welsh Government is reminding local authorities that the duty to provide free breakfasts in primary school still applies. The Welsh Government has produced guidance on the provision of free breakfasts in primary schools.

However, the staffing of breakfast clubs is not part of teachers’ duties as set out in the School Teachers Pay and Conditions (Wales) Document.

After-school clubs are also voluntary and teachers cannot be directed to undertake them. The NASUWT advice, particularly at this time, would be not to participate in such arrangements. Members previously involved in these activities and being instructed to continue to be involved should immediately seek advice from the NASUWT.

In all schools, all after-school activities should cease unless they are specifically provided for childcare purposes, including revision sessions.

The restrictions are in place to limit the transmission of the virus and this includes removing additional sessions. Schools ignoring these risk a larger outbreak which would negatively impact on educational progress and defeats the object of additional sessions.

Even where the school believes that they are permitted in relation to the activities listed in the above guidance, the NASUWT would apply the following tests:

  • Is this essential activity and if so why?

  • Has the activity been risk assessed in consultation with staff and unions and what control measures are in place?

  • Does the activity breach the bubble or group arrangements and general Covid-19 arrangements in the school?

  • Does the activity require teachers to come within two metres of any other adult?

  • Will the activity breach the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines, including the rules on social contact?

Can I take pupils on educational visits? (Wales)

No educational visits should be undertaken at this time.

My school wants me on site all day, every day even though I’ll only be teaching classes for a few hours a day. Can they do this? (Wales)

It remains Welsh Government advice that everybody should work from home where possible. Where schools require staff to attend school, they must share and explain the measures they have put in place to reduce risks. See Attendance for staff and pupils above.

Whilst schools have the autonomy to decide the structure and duration of their school day, including the start and finish as well as school sessions and breaks, schools should continue to employ teachers in accordance with the provisions of the STPCDW during the coronavirus pandemic, including the provisions relating to teachers’ days of work, working time and duties.

This also applies to the current advice and guidance from the DfE, including suggestions involving the staggering of the start and end of the school day and the way in which the school is structured to maintain social distancing.

The NASUWT is clear that any changes must be made in consultation with the school workforce and their recognised trade unions, as well as parents and the local community, recognising the potential impacts on those affected.

When we return to the school site, my headteacher has told me I will be teaching in a different Key Stage altogether. I have had no training or induction on this. Can they do this? (Wales)

The test is one of reasonableness. Teachers can be directed to teach any age group or subject, as long as this is reasonable.

The Welsh Government Operational Guidance states that although schools and settings may need to alter the way in which they deploy their staff, and use existing staff more flexibly, managers should discuss and agree any changes to staff roles with individuals.

Flexibility in deployment should not lead to individuals operating outside the scope of their role. It is important that planning builds in the need to avoid increases in unnecessary and unmanageable workload burdens.

If you consider that the demands on you are unreasonable, please email the NASUWT Wales/Cymru National Centre.

The headteacher has said that we can’t use the staff room. Is this right? (Wales)

Teachers are entitled to a daily break of reasonable length between sessions. Access to drink-making facilities should be available.

The Welsh Government advises that the use of staff rooms should be minimised. Social distancing and enhanced cleaning and hygiene arrangements must be in place.

Can I take drinks onto the playground at break time? (Wales)

Hygiene and health and safety arrangements must be observed, but there is nothing in guidance that says this should not take place.

The headteacher has rearranged PPA so that I have all my PPA for the half term in a block of three days. Can they do that? (Wales)

The School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions (Wales) Document states that PPA time must be provided in units of not less than half an hour during the school’s timetabled teaching week and must amount to not less than 10% of the teacher’s timetabled teaching time.

PPA time must be allocated in the school’s normal timetabled teaching period whether the school operates a weekly, fortnightly or any other timetable cycle. It is not possible, therefore, to block PPA time for a whole half term or other period. It must be spaced out normally.

The pandemic has not changed the need for PPA or how it can be allocated. In fact, it can be argued that teachers require more time more frequently at the moment.

The school will be closing for half a day a week so that teachers can have their PPA time. Is this right? (Wales)

The Welsh Government has not given schools the power to change their timetabled teaching week in this way.

Schools would have to consult staff and parents on such a change and would have to get permission from the local authority. Even so, it is not clear if this is a legal change.

Should pupils be moving classroom between lessons or should staff move? This has impacted on my workload. Is this right? (Wales)

The NASUWT recognises that movement around the school site should be kept to a minimum. It therefore appears reasonable to allow pupils to remain in a small number of classrooms and for staff to move. In these circumstances, it is even more important to ensure schools and settings continue to be well ventilated.

Managers should discuss and agree any changes to staff roles with individuals. It is important that planning builds in the need to avoid increases in unnecessary and unmanageable workload burdens.

Arrangements should be put in place to enable learners to maintain social distance from each other as well as staff members wherever possible, alongside other control measures.