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Asked to fly back to China during outbreak: what to do?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by tigertiger2001, Feb 25, 2020.

  1. tigertiger2001

    tigertiger2001 New commenter

    I work in a school in China: I flew back to England because of the virus epidemic and am now being asked to fly back there again. I'm very worried about this because it's still extremely dangerous. I'm unsure of what to do or say as I don't think it's safe, on the other hand I do have a contractual obligation. Comments and constructive advice welcome.
  2. kpjf

    kpjf Occasional commenter

    Well, British Airways have cancelled flights to Shanghai/Beijing until 17th April and who knows it could be extended.

    When exactly do you need to be back in the school for?
  3. clovispoint

    clovispoint Occasional commenter

    No is an option, they do not own you. See what they say. If possible, contact colleagues and say no en masse, unless they provide specific assurances e.g. medical insurance, what contact hours will be on return, number of days contact left etc.

    I think the current situation could require an additional contract to ensure you know where you stand. Ask if they will provide it.

    HK schools are closed to April 20- article
    agathamorse likes this.
  4. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    Things you can politely inform your school;

    1. Your life insurance policy will be null and void if you return to China.
    2. Your medical insurance may not be valid in China.
    3. The British Consulate will not rush in and help you as you have ignored the Government advice to leave China.
    4. Will the school provide assistance if you are forced to spend 14 days self quarantine, do your shopping and bring you meals to the door. Very difficult as the compound manager places a paper seal across your door and you are looking at 10 days in jail if you break them.

    No court is going to hold a contract as valid after the British Government has told its citizens to leave for their own safety.

    I would contact your colleagues to have a single voice saying NO, if you don't want to return yet.

    On the dark teachers net, names of schools and principals forcing staff to return are been taken! It reminds me of the situation in Kuwait when Scud missiles fell from the sky, schools that forced teachers to stay found it difficult to recruit for the next 10 years.
  5. Radian43

    Radian43 New commenter

    I have been quite vocal about teachers not having to give up their holidays/weekends in this situation because that is unfair on teachers and isn't in our contracts.

    However, teachers shouldn't expect schools to pay them whilst they sit in another country because of a foreign governments 'advice.' I think you can say no and both your current school and future employers should be understanding of that personal choice - but that means you negotiate mutual termination of contract in my opinion.
    bonxie likes this.
  6. djphillips1408

    djphillips1408 New commenter

    I have been asked the same thing and have told my headteacher that I will not return until the FCO lift their travel advice of "If you are in China and are able to leave then you should do so".
  7. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    It is a bit more than advice. The FCO advice has legal consequences like medical and life insurance becoming void if you ignore the FCO advice.

    Any sensible person would see that a school asking or very strongly suggesting that employees fly back to China at the current time is unreasonable.
    I feel it is reasonable that schools expect teachers to do the best they can with online teaching.
  8. TusitalaH

    TusitalaH New commenter

    We’ve not heard anything about a return date yet and I’m very surprised to hear you’re being asked to go back. What city are you in?

    As others have said, international staff should politely but collectively say ‘no’. Schools aren’t even open yet and it doesn’t look like they will be anytime soon.

    If there’s enough of you refusing the school will need to listen. It’s going to be hard enough to recruit to China in the coming year, let alone having to replace large numbers of international staff that were forced to break contract.
    agathamorse and Teachallover like this.
  9. kpjf

    kpjf Occasional commenter

    What was their reply to that?
  10. djphillips1408

    djphillips1408 New commenter

    We got an email next day saying to hold off booking flights, I suspect every teacher said the same thing as me. It's not the headteacher's call to try and bring us back, it's the Chinese owners.
    agathamorse and kpjf like this.
  11. Radian43

    Radian43 New commenter

    Have you spoke to your insurance company yet? I have had it confirmed from mine that my health insurance is still valid in China despite the FCO advice. Many cities in China are reporting no new cases and things are beginning to open back up. If your school are asking you to come back then I assume its been OK'd by the local education bureau. What we can all agree on I think, is that its almost certain that China will say things are OK before the UK FCO does - so we will all be in this position at some point.
  12. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    I had it confirmed that my health insurance was valid in China, but interestingly the bit that covered repatriation for medical treatment to the UK was no longer available or cover in other countries. (Going to the USA we had to pay extra ourselves anyway )

    The latest news from Hong Kong indicate that schools will not open till after Easter Holidays. In China it has been posted that High School students will return to school first and if conditions are stable Middle School students will return 2 weeks later, after another 2 weeks of stability Primary School will restart and Nurseries the last to open. So even if all goes to plan all schools will not be reopened till May at the earliest.

    Interesting to note that if the Principal asking staff to return to China is a British Citizen they are open to personal legal action in Britain under the Human Rights Charter/European Court of HumanRights.(for the next 10 months anyway)
    agathamorse likes this.
  13. TusitalaH

    TusitalaH New commenter

    Where did you get this info about high school, middle school etc?
  14. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    Its in the Chinese newspapers, there are English publications of the Chinadaily etc!
    TusitalaH and agathamorse like this.
  15. Jeremyinspain

    Jeremyinspain Occasional commenter

    FO says more than leave if you are in China... https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china
  16. shazzamac

    shazzamac New commenter

    I have many foreign friends sti in China... Not Wuhan or Hubei. I won't say they think it is dangerous. Just that you never know what is round the corner... Imposed lock downs (not at the moment) and reduced flights in case you need to get out of China for some reason.
    Of the people returning, most are those with families...since staying in hotels with kids, trying to do their online work whilst tutoring kids in their online lessons, and sharing 1 computer is more madness then kids sleeping in their own beds etc. So they are not worried for safety, the comforts of 'home' are put weighing the risks right now. Most singles, or those without kids are still outside China. It seems to come down to practicalities!! ... And money... Not that cheap to keep a family of 5 in. Filipine resort!
  17. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    Well the Association of Shanghai Schools Headteachers Other Lower Educators is recording all the schools and SMT names that force teachers to return to China. It meets in the Camel every Friday from 3pm till the end of Happy Hour. Anybody left standing can bring up AOB at the bar in The Spot.

    But seriously where does a school that forces staff to return against their will think they will recruit their next cohort of teachers. Once a schools name and that of the principal's is trashed it will take years to recover a good reputation. As for the principal who was the human face to the persuasion they will be shown the door to help whitewash the schools tainted virtues PDQ.

    Will Search Associates willingly allow such a school to use their services again. I am sure SA has a moral compass in these situations. Not to mention the International Schools Review can add an extra tick box to indicate if a particular school forced staff to return to China.
  18. 4019775

    4019775 New commenter

    "Interesting to note that if the Principal asking staff to return to China is a British Citizen they are open to personal legal action in Britain under the Human Rights Charter/European Court of HumanRights.(for the next 10 months anyway)"

    It really is amazing the nonsense "established commentators" make up. Cross border legal action of any kind is very very expensive and complex. But just keep on making up the BS
    Laughing Gravy likes this.
  19. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    This is the BLIND STUPIDITY that allows school owners and principals/heads to abuse staff in the mistaken belief they are immune to British Courts and law. I totally agree if the school is owned by a Saudi Prince who ever leaves the country it will be impossible to take action against them in the UK but what is the school is owned by a large company with 66 schools world wide but its head office in Victoria Street London. Many large recruitment agencies are also registered in the UK and as such are covered by British Law and duties of care.

    There is plenty of case law already made regarding British owned, managed companies mistreating foreign and UK workers abroad.

    If you ask a British Teachers Union to help they are very interested to help teachers in need of legal aid and will point you to charities and Human Rights layers who will take your case on your behave. You can contact your MP and write to them your complaint and this then can be taken up by the FCO in Whitehall, using this method we managed to get our dispute raised at Governmental Levels here in China.

    If your school is demanding you return to China I would use the internet to WRITE TO YOUR MP NOW!


    Especially if its a UK citizens name at the bottom of any email, memo or letter sent to you! These complaints will be forwarded by your MPs office to the FCO for there immediate attention and action.

    I often accuse teachers of acting like sheep in these situations, they make a lot of bleating sounds, run around madly but still allow themselves to be fleeced. If 20 sheep stand together and act as one they can charge down the lone wolf and trample them into the dirt.

    I have given one free immediate action any teacher can take if they are been forced to return to China, how will take the necessary steps I wonder.
    agathamorse, skvo and suem75 like this.
  20. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    Sorry last sentence should read.

    I have given one free immediate action any teacher can take if they are been forced to return to China, how many will take the necessary steps I wonder.

    My internet froze and I could not edit my post, must be all the online teaching going on!
    agathamorse, skvo and suem75 like this.

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