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Can I refuse to go back to teaching if schools re-open too soon?

Discussion in 'News' started by AntonellaCossu, Apr 25, 2020.


Are you scared of going back to teaching as soon as June/July?

Poll closed Jul 25, 2020.
  1. Yes

  2. No

  1. AntonellaCossu

    AntonellaCossu New commenter

    This is a question that is seriously giving me anxiety and sleepless night so I hope someone can help me understand/clarify.

    Can I be fired if I refuse to go back to teaching in June when the schools are hypothetically set to re-open?

    I have asthma but I am not in the NHS list of vulnerable people because I am italian and i dont really go to doctors here in London where I live. When I need urgent medical attention (happened once or twice in 13 years) I go to the hospital and when I need to do anything else I just go home to my doctors there.

    Now, Ive not had an asthma episode in years although I risked dying several times as a child and a young adult.
    Now, I am scared to even go to the shops to buy food right now so i get everything delivered and Ive not left my house not even for a walk and the thought of going back to work so soon is destroying me.
    I travel 1 hr and 15 minutes to get to my school and change bus-overground-underground-bus again-walk.
    On what grounds can I demand to be LEFT ALONE BECAUSE I DONT WANT TO DIE.
    ACOYEAR8 likes this.
  2. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    My guess is that you would need a doctor's certificate of some sort. If you are deemed safe to go to work and you don't show up, you're not fulfilling your contract.
    However no-one on here is qualified to give you advice: contact your union - and I suggest contact your doctor.
  3. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    1st June has been given as likely to be the earliest date schools can start to admit more pupils than now. That is not the same as being open as such.
    I think the being copped up at home on your own with nothing to do but panic is probably not helping. Try just a short walk round the block, with a scarf on if it help you. Begin to go to the shops, go at a quiet time in the evening to help with your worries.
    You can't, but be aware all the communication from government and unions is that schools will not reopen until it is safe to do so. If school is open and ask you to go in, then it will be safe for you to do so.
  4. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Probably you can't refuse but, honestly, no-one here could tell you (and a Poll is pointless) because (a) we aren't your GP and can't say whether you are medically fit to work, and (b) no-one knows the basis on which schools will be reopened.

    Your union is the best place to go for advice. What did they say? You're in you're NQT year aren't you?

    I'm fairly sure that shouting at the head that you won't return to work because (in shouty capitals) you want to be LEFT ALONE BECAUSE I DONT WANT TO DIE is not, on its own, an acceptable reason under UK employment law to refuse to return to work.
  5. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    The OP doesn't seem to have one.
  6. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    If "i dont really go to doctors here in London where I live" means OP has no GP then, yes, OP is going to have a problem getting signed off work for medical reasons.
  7. AntonellaCossu

    AntonellaCossu New commenter

    I’ve provided the school with a doctors certificate that states I’ve asthma... but is that gonna be enough?
  8. AntonellaCossu

    AntonellaCossu New commenter

    I see your point but truthfully, I have a lot to do. I’m head of Spanish and I am teaching 6 periods every day through Microsoft Teams. When I am not teaching, I am planning. 10 hrs every day I spend working from home. I am panicking because I have a reason to: this government is all over the place.
    Rysia and WitchFingers like this.
  9. AntonellaCossu

    AntonellaCossu New commenter

    I write in capital to put emphasis on my sentences, not to shout. I am an adult and I know how to have a conversation as well as I also know how to grab attention by adding a provocative statement to my original message.
    My employer is amazing and despite other teachers are going to school still, I have not been asked to do so. I have absolute faith in my headteacher and I love my school. What I don’t love, is this government who thinks they can play with people’s lives and if people here don’t see that, then they should open their eyes and read up about how the italian and Spanish government are dealing with the situation: including PAYING baby sitters to look after the children of nurses and doctors etc. If the government says school should be open in June, then this government is criminal because there is enough evidence to show it is not safe to do so.
    Catgirl1964 likes this.
  10. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I can see why you're worried.
    Unfortunately, you can't just stay off work without certification from a doctor.
    I would suggest contacting a local GP surgery to find out if and how you can register. Once you've spoken to a doctor, a clearer way forward.may reveal itself.
    If you can't get registered with a docotr, you're in a bit of a tricky situation and I'm not quite sure of a good solution.
  11. AntonellaCossu

    AntonellaCossu New commenter

    Thank you. I am registered with a GP in England, however they’re not aware of my medical history because I’ve only been registered for the past three years here in the UK. I’ve been plagued by episodes of bronchial asthma until I was 25 and then nothing for a fair few years. I don’t use inhalers and nothing. But I know that my lungs don’t work at full capacity. My school are amazing and have accepted a doctor certificate from my doctor in Italy and I’m sure they would never force me to go back to school. The government will, I am angry at the government not my school, which I love dearly.
  12. becky70

    becky70 Occasional commenter

    You need to get registered with a GP ASAP. Then you can get an idea of where you are at with your asthma now. They may also be able to point you in the direction of some support with your fears as well - you are clearly extremely anxious about the virus, which is understandable as you have been severely ill in previous years.
    If you don't have a medical note from a doctor and you simply refuse to attend work, then yes, you can be dismissed. Hope you get sorted with a doctor soon.
  13. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    If she is genuinely terrified about working, surely she could be classed as too ill to work? I am not pretending to be able to offer legal or medical advice, so like everyone else would say union/get a GP to advise, but I have known many staff be off because they feel too stressed to be in-whether for personal/wrs reasons-obviously this is a specific situation we have not come across before, but I imagine many staff will not want to go back so early? And parents surely will not want to send in their children unless teachers can promise to enforce hand washing/distancing (I would not have been able to do this in any of the schools I worked in, unless lots of things were changed)? And I'm sure I saw something about the unions advising that it would not be safe to return until a vaccine/new drug was produced? Am I correct about this (sure I saw something on FB but I didn't read it properly due to oven dinging).
  14. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    Agree with post 13.
  15. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Online posting in capitals is the equivalent of shouting

    agathamorse likes this.
  16. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Going by the quality of advice from the government so far, I certainly wouldn't take their word for anything. Closing schools had a major effect on cases here - more so than the subsequent lockdown apparently, according to the data (See R4 More or Less programme from last week on iplayer).

    These clowns were telling us it was okay to be in large gatherings, restaurants etc.
    padraig, Catgirl1964 and WitchFingers like this.
  17. ACOYEAR8

    ACOYEAR8 Star commenter

    Unfortunately, " safety" is likely to be a word employed by people who have much larger agendas. If your school says it's safe to go back, then it might be. However, we all have to get a grip and make some pretty important decisions -some of which may be based on advice from "authorities" - some based on our own feelings. We will have to make them though since staying indoors, eating too many biscuits and watching films where people sit next to each other on buses and crowd together on streets is not a future I want.
  18. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    Several points emerge here.
    1. There's no such thing as absolute safety. We all have to balance risk.
    2. Not using a GP has its problems.
    3. Union advice is advice. It's not binding on schools.
    4. We don't know what process will be involved in returning to school so the question is not yet answerable.
    5. In normal times employees who don't show up for work without a sick note or without self-certifying get fired.
  19. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Why on earth are you working 16 hours a day? It should not take 10 hours to plan 6 lessons, especially if you are an experienced teacher and HOD. It's easy to get bogged down in it all when you are at home alone with nothing to do but work or panic. But you need to take control of both these things. Nothing we can say or do will be a substitute for you making decisions to do things differently.
    The government won't force you to go back. They can't. Your headteacher will decide which staff to have in school and which to keep at home. They will organise their school to ensure maximum safety for everyone. Your GP will also issue you with a note if it isn't safe for you to be at work.
  20. shevington

    shevington Occasional commenter

    Good afternoon. Register with your local GP Practice. Check the internet, Depending on the practice you can join on line to fill their forms. You could consult a private doctor ( see internet)and receive a certificate which might be done quickly but would cost you money.

    Union. We continue to remind people that the Unions are good source of advice at the current time IF you are a member of NASUWT or NEU phone them to have a chat. Look at their main web site where there is pages of advice and information.

    If you are not in a Union I would join one now ,otherwise they will not let you join if you run into trouble.

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