UNISON continues to work hard to support school support workers as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.
Wales specific updates will be placed on this page and we will also continue to provide up-to-date information on our Facebook page.
Schools working during the ongoing pandemic
As school staff carry on the essential work of keeping schools going through the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, the safety of staff, pupils, parents and our communities must come first.
Schools in Wales reopened fully from 9 November. UNISON constantly monitors what is happening across schools in Wales and we will review the impact on the rate of transmission in schools and communities following the firebreak.
We are having continued discussions with the Welsh Government and calling for regular, proactive testing of school staff.
The role of school education in young people’s lives is of critical importance for many diverse reasons. School support staff want to see schools remaining open as much as possible – but this must not be at any cost. Health and safety at work has never been more important, and UNISON will continue to represent and protect the interests of our members.
Updated guidance on face coverings
The Welsh Government has updated its operational guidance on the use of face coverings in secondary schools and colleges.
The guidance now states that face coverings should be worn:
- in all areas outside the classroom by staff and learners in secondary schools and colleges
- on dedicated school and college transport for learners in year 7 and up
- by visitors to all schools and colleges, including parents and carers dropping off and picking up children
Read the full announcement from Welsh Government here
Priority testing for symptomatic education workers
For those in education or childcare settings: if you are symptomatic and experiencing significant barriers in accessing a test via the online booking portal, you can access a test through the Local Health Board Community Testing Units (details of how to access these tests differ depending on the area you are in); information is via this link –
On September 29, Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Health and Social Services, set out the prioritisation for testing in Wales as the Welsh Government move into a new phase of response, these reflect the priorities set out in the testing strategy. Priority five is to prioritise testing for symptomatic staff working in education or childcare settings where is it needed to keep the settings open.
Read the Minister’s full statement: Written Statement: Prioritisation COVID-19 Testing>
Keeping schools safe
UNISON, along with some of the other unions in schools, has produced a comprehensive checklist covering all school settings, including special schools. It will help school staff and reps when discussing with school leaders arrangements for and consultation on regular thorough reviews of the school risk assessment.
UNISON has issued guidance for staff who are medically vulnerable or otherwise at higher risk from Covid-19, or who live with or care for people who are. It is intended to ensure that medical conditions, pregnancy, other personal characteristics, and the impact of economic disadvantage are all taken into account in determining whether it is safe for employees to attend the workplace and what safety measures are required for them.
Welsh Government has commissioned Education Support to undertake a project to support the well-being of the education workforce in Wales as part of the whole school approach towards well-being.
A wellbeing advisor will be appointed to support up to 100 schools across Wales providing services including resilience training and sharing best practice. The charity will also create wellbeing and resource content for HwB and a specific Welsh section on the Education Support website.
We know this is an uncertain time, but UNISON is there for you. You can get updates and network with other school support staff via our Facebook page.
And we cannot emphasise enough, if you have any concerns about your health, safety or wellbeing at work, please contact your for further advice and support.
Whilst you are visiting our page, we thought you might be interested to learn about some new courses from UNISON for members working in schools.
These courses are FREE for anyone living/working in Wales in the schools sector!
- Dealing with Grief in Children & Young People – Saturday 17/10/20 @ 10.15am
- Managing Challenging Behaviour in Schools – Thursday 29/10/20 @ 9.30am
- Communication & Positive Relationships with Children & Young People – Sat 14/11/20 @ 9.30am
- “Understanding Psychology” series November – February
School Support Staff e-learning pathway –
Read the updated Welsh Government advice: Health and well-being for school staff and learners: coronavirus>
Don’t forget you can stay up-to-date with our UNISON Cymru Wales school support staff Face Book page>