With schools opening more widely this week, teachers and school staff with dependents face some tough decisions. Whereas they may have previously had the flexibility to work from home to manage childcare, they may now be asked to return to school to help support pupils in their reduced class sizes.
We asked Voice: The Union for Education Professionals to answer some of your questions about your rights as a parent during this time.
I'm a teacher with a child who is not in one of the returning school years, but I've now been put on the rota to be in school with the returning children. What should I do?
"It is natural that some staff will be worried about coming into school even if the risks for them are very low. You will know your staff best and so will be in the best position to work out how to proceed in individual cases.
"We are working in an unprecedented context, and more reassurance and discussion than usual may be required. It is always best, if at all possible, to work out a sensible way forward in individual cases that acknowledges any specific anxieties but which also enables the school’s responsibilities to be effectively discharged. If you need support in finding a solution, speak to your local authority or trust."
It is critical that teachers speak with their headteacher in the first instance if there are issues around childcare. Teachers will still be required to set work for the children learning remotely and these tasks can continue to be undertaken by teachers working from home.
Schools will have staged start and end times to support social distancing, and this means that teachers could work slightly altered hours, too, although no teacher should be on site after the children have left, to allow for the building to be properly cleaned.
There is also the option to take dependents’ leave or even unpaid leave, though we do not believe this is appropriate in these circumstances.