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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


    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    Also - we are talking about two months at the very least. And even then I suspect schools will not allow all students back and will not want all teachers back either.

    And seriously - if you are worried that this could kill you - don't go back.

    They can fire you. They can give you a bad reference. But at the end of the day - this is just a job. As Mayor Cuomo in New York has said: "economic hardship- very bad - but it's not death."

    We are key workers, but we aren't keeping anyone alive. We shouldn't force ourselves to step up and take a bullet to provide babysitting services. I don't want to see any teachers dying just to get the banks open again.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    Sorry, still fuming a bit...

    Seriously - this is just an extension of that old cry 'its a vocation, not just a job' and 'if you really cared about the children, you would...(stay late / work through the holidays / cover lessons so SLT can go on motivational courses in posh hotels / donate a kidney). Let's not forget that if we were still back at school and a non blood relative died - we would not have the right to go to the funeral.
  3. dumpty

    dumpty Star commenter

    If you are as worried as you describe, then quit the job. Sounds harsh but right now that is where you are at. Your stress is causing you ill health and it is not worth it.

    Others have given decent advice on what you might be able to do, I would also add to consider talking to a doctor/therapist as to why you now believe being in a classroom = the kids have the virus = they will spread it =you will get it = you will die.

    For before the virus that line of thought was still viable for other airborne viruses IF you wanted to let it take you over as this one has. And the fact is this virus will still be around whether you go back June, September or December.

    It was probably worse so far as your panic/theory goes in the many weeks before lockdown. At that time you were not worried because you were not told to be.

    Now sure, you are not alone in these thoughts but they are wildly exaggerated and therefore treatable. I think it is a long process on the NHS though and private treatment costly.

    But you should consider it at least.
  4. ukpaul

    ukpaul Occasional commenter

    I'm not convinced that you are describing something that is unusual and definitely not a psychiatric issue. As for me, I was pushed into a state of high anxiety before the lockdown, not because of irrational fears but because of completely rational ones. I knew that being told not to worry was madness and I think many would have been in the same position. It is different to influenza, for example, in the length of its dormant period and, something that is especially a concern in schools, that children can be spreading the virus without showing symptoms.

    Seeing the children as being those who will spread it to you is completely rational. If you have a condition that puts you at risk, the idea that this can kill you is also completely rational.

    This isn't a psychiatric problem, it is based very much in real concerns. It is a job for government and schools to reduce that possibility so that the workplace is safe enough for you to work again. If this was any other virus, the same would apply.
  5. botanybod

    botanybod New commenter

    We don't yet know under what terms schools will reopen, but I think it's safe to presume that there will be allowances made for those with underlying health conditions. We won't see every student in every day for a long while, and students will still need to be set work to do remotely. It should therefore be possible for some teachers to contribute solely from home, if there is a medical need. You will get some teachers who complain that "that's not fair", but they are being unreasonable. As a teacher with no underlying health conditions, I am perfectly willing to take some risk and come to school, when those with underlying health conditions, or due to age, or caring responsibilities, do not, as long as work is distributed fairly overall. You have faith that your school will treat you fairly, take heart in that, many are not so lucky. Also, the government aren't going to force you to do anything, that's not how teaching contracts work. You are not directly employed by the government, you are employed by your school. When we know more about what is likely to happen, your best bet would be to have a conversation with your Headteacher, and explicitly set out how you can do a useful job, to justify your salary, from home. I'm sure those teachers who are going in to school will welcome someone else planning their online lessons. Your school have accepted your doctor's note from Italy, so it sounds like they will be accommodating. Good luck.
    padraig and agathamorse like this.
  6. becky70

    becky70 Occasional commenter

    Some new posts seemed to have popped up from the OP which I hadn't seen before - don't know if it's one of those pre moderation things.
    Anyway, I think you'll be fine as your head is supportive. As has been pointed out, the government won't force you back to work. It may give your head the right to make you go back but your head will not exercise this right from what you have said.
    I'm glad to hear that you are registered with a GP in England - do talk to them! They can provide a sick note if needed.
  7. h001

    h001 New commenter

    On a completely separate note, you may want to consider changing your name for the purpose of posting in a forum if you are using your real name.
  8. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I read the OP's comments as meaning that, in lockdown, she is working 10 hour days, not 16hrs. She mentioned 6 hours of lessons each day and then planning. She then clarified that she was working 10 hours per day.
  9. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    When you registered they will have asked for details such as your asthma, so that should be on record.
    If you have been to the hospital since being in the country then they are most likely to have access to that. Even if they don't they may be able to get a copy of your medical records from overseas.

    If you do not have an up to date asthma plan your GP should prioritise you and they can do a lot of the assessment over the phone/skype.

    Based on your journey in though, it may not be even possible to get in using public transport should schools open relatively soon.
  10. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    Im no doctor here...


    1) if you have had two episodes in 13 years
    2) none for several years
    3) you dont use inhalers what hints to me that you dont have acute asthma..

    Then i dont think you’ll meet the criteria- and i say that as someone who has had family who haven’t received letters....
    border_walker likes this.
  11. madenglishgirl

    madenglishgirl New commenter

    Just to reiterate this, you wouldn't be entitled to shield at home

    In England, the NHS says you would be in the shielding group for asthma if ALL THREE of these things apply to you:

    • You have asthma, AND
    • You are taking certain extra controller medicines as well as a preventer inhaler (for example, you are taking Montelukast, salmeterol or formoterol, or you are on a combination inhaler like Seretide, Fostair, Symbicort, Flutiform, Fobumix, DuoResp Spiromax, Combisal, Sereflo, Sirdupla, Aloflute, AirFluSal, Relvar Ellipta, Fusacomb or Stalpex), AND
    • You are taking continuous or frequent oral steroids.
    I write this as someone who has asthma, but I'm only on one inhaler and haven't had a bad episode for over a year. I've not had the luxury of being able to worry about the virus as I have been in every day with Keyworker kids since the schools first 'shut' before Easter.
    agathamorse likes this.

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