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'key' workers?

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 minimike 05 Jan 2021

Our school have just said they are unable to open for keyworkers in certain years due to demand being too high. 80% of kids are requested to be in apparently.  This is in strong contrast to march when there were only a handful of kids.  We have been asked to clarify what we do and whether both parents are keyworkers and full time.  I have no problem with this, but it seems they will have to prioritise within key workers, without any official guidance to do so..

so, what's a key worker..? Who should be requesting their kids are in 'school' at the moment (it's just supervised home-learning and childcare anyway - not proper school)? How should schools prioritise?

 marsbar 05 Jan 2021
In reply to minimike:

There is an official list of critical workers on the .Gov.uk site.  

Certain schools will have a lot due to location I think.  

I also think schools will have to look at working hours.  Some people last time were taking the pi$$.  

If you work an evening shift at the supermarket 3 days a week you are a key worker who needs to go to work and can't work from home.  However if you are only at work in the evening 3 days a week you can probably look after your own kids and leave the school places for someone who needs it.  

When you say your school and certain years, do you mean a secondary school expects children of 14 not to need constant babysitting?  

In reply to minimike:

My wife’s school has noticed more key workers this time round. I reckon many key workers choose to work from home first time round (Eg certain council staff) but now they want/need to be in work. Vulnerable plus key worker children = over 50%, so staff are still going in (rota system, doubling up classrooms) BUT having to do remote learning at the same time as face to face !?  ALL teaching assistants doin their normal hours. If we assume key worker children have a higher % chance of having covid, then the risk to staff has been reduced by only a small amount. Thinking about it, doubling up classrooms with key worker children will increase the chance of coming into contact with a covid child, and increase the chance of a key worker catching covid of their child (fully aware there is evidence of low transmission in children).

My heads minced with all this shite, I’m off out to take down 2,000 lights of our outdoor Xmas tree. 

 marsbar 05 Jan 2021
In reply to mick taylor:

Surely the point of online learning is to have as few kids physically in school as possible, enabling social distancing and for the rest of the teachers to be teaching online.  

I totally agree that vulnerable children should be in.  Given the worries about some of them I'd even be in favour of some kind of incentive to get them in and keep them safe.  

I think there are other people who could manage to look after their own children but just don't want to.  

Meanwhile there will be the unfortunate effect of teachers sending their own kids in if they have to be in and babysitting instead of teaching online from home.  

I know many of my colleagues are teaching via teams and looking after their own children simultaneously today.  

I expect to get disliked for speaking my mind, so go for it people.   Would be interesting if you could explain if its bribery to keep the vulnerable safe or calling out people who don't want to look after their own kids that is the issue.  Or both of course.  

2
In reply to minimike:

well, as with the last lockdown, quarry/cement lorry drivers are key workers, at least in Derbyshire judging by the amount of traffic. In the last lockdown the Lafarge and Tarmac wagons were virtually the only traffic round here

 jelllytrad 05 Jan 2021
In reply to minimike:

Lots of key jobs e.g. council, therapy, social services that provide public support were done from home in the first lockdown via phone and video appointments. But there have been high levels of DNAs and lots of public have low engagement in these so some are returning to face to face work for certain groups of people .

In reply to minimike:

I just received an email from HR at my Uni that Lecturing and support staff are key workers and will be issued with a letter in order to gain a school place for children

1
 wintertree 05 Jan 2021
In reply to minimike:

My somewhat former & my partner's current university just emailed us to inform us that all university staff are now considered critical workers with access to school places based on guidance from The University and Colleges Employment Association in turn received from the department for education.

This would appear to remove the ability of a staff member to apply for furlough in order to provide child care and home schooling.  

Given the alternative appears to be opening up what the government scientists recognise as a high risk transmission route in to the household, at a time when healthcare capacity is fast running out, and where the education is likely to be a sub-standard mixed age group being overseen by skeleton staff, I'm in a pretty cynical and pissed off place right now.

Edit - partly in response to Roadrunner6's post below.  Yes, it was exhausting the first time around and a lot of my colleagues will I think be very happy with this news.  For us this time round, furlough for childcare was on the table and has I think just been taken away.  

Post edited at 18:03
3
 Roadrunner6 05 Jan 2021
In reply to mick taylor:

yeah, I think many realize how impossible it is to work from home with young kids at home..

 Wainers44 05 Jan 2021
In reply to mick taylor:

> My heads minced with all this shite, I’m off out to take down 2,000 lights of our outdoor Xmas tree. 

Done! Hope that the world looks to be in a whole better place when the lights and deccys come out of the loft next. Hope everyone is ok.

In reply to marsbar:

> Meanwhile there will be the unfortunate effect of teachers sending their own kids in if they have to be in and babysitting instead of teaching online from home.  

I had to go in to school today to be told we should if we can teach from home from now on! My youngest will have to go his childminder and pre-school still because there is no way I can teach from home and my partner do her job (not a teacher but also a key worker) with him around. My older kids will just have to sit in their bedrooms and get on with their own school work there I guess and only come downstairs at my school's break and lunchtimes when I'm not teaching! My partner's work is even more safeguarding-sensitive than mine, so I suppose she keeps using the one room with a desk in it and a door that can be closed...

 mark s 05 Jan 2021
In reply to minimike:

It seems a lot more are at work this time. The roads seem no quieter 

My wife is a teacher and I work in the chemical industry so we are both at work. Luckily a lot of my work is shift and nights so we can keep her at home. She will have to go in to school though most days 

In reply to minimike:

I wonder how many are taking the piss because they can't be arsed. One of my guys asked if I could do him a key worker letter so he could get his kid a place with the local child minder. He wasn't happy when I pointed out that he was on Furlough and would only be a key worker if we got snowed under and brought him back to work. 

Normally a great guy but that episode left my diss firmly gruntled. 

2
 mik82 05 Jan 2021
In reply to minimike:

Thinking out loud - but given key workers are more likely to get infected as still in work, and in this case 80% are saying they are key workers, and then their children are going to school, are we not just leaving schools as a hotbed of onward transmission? How are we going to get R<1 even with a full lockdown. I hope this is included in the modelling!

1
In reply to minimike:

First time round keyworker school was very quiet at the beginning.  Then as lockdown dragged on it got busier and busier, at the end I felt that the school was encouraging as many kids in as they could to try to get some sort of structured learning into them before the summer.   I think about 2/3 of the class was in! I remember thinking at the time -"Coo this could go pear shaped if we have to go back to key-worker school as it will be very difficult to start gate-keeping this now." 

I think the first time round many parents were more worried about the virus than they are now, though a moment's thought makes me very scared - 1/50 have it and there's more than 50 kids at that school.  Chances are it's coming home to me I think.  There were also no infections in the whole of the keyworker school last time.  I think this will not be the case this time and we will have keyworker kids bubbles being asked to self-isolate which will get messy.

First drop off tomorrow, we'll see what we see. Much, much colder this time round, won't have quite the same holiday camp feel.

Hats off to the school - they stood it up between 8.00 p.m. last night and 9.00 a.m. this morning, as well as sending out home learning for one of our two kids. Astonishing.  

1
 Fozzy 05 Jan 2021
In reply to TobyA:

> I had to go in to school today to be told we should if we can teach from home from now on! 

We’ve been told the opposite; we have to deliver all of our online lessons from our classrooms at school, unless we have a note from our doctor to say we are medically vulnerable (despite being able to deliver exactly the same lessons from home perfectly well). 

It’s an utter nonsense as all it does is increase opportunities for contact & therefore potential infection. However, the gov’t rules now say that public sector workers should still be going in rather than remotely working, so in we go. 

1
In reply to Fozzy:

> We’ve been told the opposite; we have to deliver all of our online lessons from our classrooms at school, unless we have a note from our doctor to say we are medically vulnerable (despite being able to deliver exactly the same lessons from home perfectly well). 

Did you say you teach in an independent school - or was it that you were just thinking about that?

It does seem odd - I think my school's head has been doing an amazing job and clearly working ridiculously long hours trying to deal with everything, but I did the head might be more inclined to have us teachers in school working from there (as it seems you've been told to do) than at home teaching from there. But at the staff meeting (over Teams of course) the message was very clear - the government's message via DfE was very clear, we should be at home if at all possible. We can go in and work from school, but that was clearly not the preferred way.

I wonder how your school can see the advice so differently!?

 Fozzy 05 Jan 2021
 RobAJones 05 Jan 2021
In reply to Fozzy:

Did they not get this far?

Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home

In reply to Fozzy:

Funnily enough I was just reading exactly that as someone had shared it on FB but without linking where it was from. It totally confusing isn't it? I guess my SLT read the "You may only leave your home for work if you cannot reasonably work from home." first and decided that takes precedent...?  So, if we can reasonably work from home, which I think I can, then I should be home. My partner does child protection social work which is pretty important and 'frontline', I would argue more than teaching - but they've been working from home predominantly since March. You could try that as an example of what it is to "reasonably work from home" to 'discuss' it with your boss! Good luck.

 Fozzy 05 Jan 2021
In reply to RobAJones:

> Did they not get this far?

> Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home

Apparently not. 

 RobAJones 05 Jan 2021
In reply to Fozzy:

No wonder you are considering moving.

The only reason I can think is they don't trust you to work at home, worried that some staff will play the "I had trouble with the internet connection card". If there are one or two staff in your school that would do that, they won't be above phoning in needing to isolate because they have lost their sense of taste. It always wound me up when the vast majority of the staff "suffered" and the one or two members that the ;policy was aimed at continued to take the p*ss anyway. 

 NorthernGrit 06 Jan 2021
In reply to RobAJones:

A good smattering of "I've managed to get the two kids in school 5 days but only work 2 so looking forward to my 3 days off a week yippee!" posts on our parents group. Also seems that as long as one parent is a key worker it doesn't matter whether the other one could fill in.

Does feel like many are taking the piss. Both my wife and I are "key workers" but honestly we're both dubious of that really. Society wouldn't exactly crumble if we stopped work for a few weeks. So we're keeping kids at home, juggling childcare and working into evenings and weekends to make up time. It was awful last time and likely worse this time but doesn't feel right just putting kids in school because we can.

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 NorthernGrit 06 Jan 2021
In reply to NorthernGrit:

Apologies for the colossal virtue signalling at end of previous post. Not my intention but can't be bothered to edit now.

In reply to NorthernGrit:

> A good smattering of "I've managed to get the two kids in school 5 days but only work 2 so looking forward to my 3 days off a week yippee!" posts on our parents group. 

I've seen the same, with 0 empathy to those parents who are not key workers, who can still work from home and who must see these and just...words fail me.

Drop off this morning was incredibly busy.  A teacher I spoke to who was dropping her own kids off said that the class she teaches has 50% of kids in.  Surely this is not sustainable.

My wife is at work (physically).  I did home-schooling and working for 3 weeks last time round before realising I could only do one or the other.  Even with key worker school l I still burnt myself out to the extent that I had to take time off for stress. 

It's an enormous sh*t sandwich we are all being served but I've got no better answers beyond shutting down even more of the economy as parents realise they can't home-school and work at the same time.  

 RobAJones 06 Jan 2021
In reply to Bobling:

I made a suggestion on the other thread. Basically it was that teachers (and other who are not working and CRB checked) taught small bubbles locally. It would work in my village two teacher 18(ish) kid half in the pub half in the village hall. One of my concerns was the extra transmission that might cause compared to the current system. From what most people are saying it would actually much better than the current system. Next door would be teaching his two and three other households in the village hall. instead he is driving 30 miles to a school with about 40 staff and about 80 kids. His two lad are going into a school with 100 staff and a few hundred kids.   I also think that it would be more difficult for people to take the p*ss out of their neighbours.

 jkarran 06 Jan 2021
In reply to Dax H:

> I wonder how many are taking the piss because they can't be arsed. One of my guys asked if I could do him a key worker letter so he could get his kid a place with the local child minder. He wasn't happy when I pointed out that he was on Furlough and would only be a key worker if we got snowed under and brought him back to work. 

I can appreciate your annoyance but I'm not sure the childminder needs a letter, nurseries and childminders are still open normally (in context) or at least mine is.

jk

In reply to mik82:

> How are we going to get R<1 even with a full lockdown.

Apparently R got down to 0.6 in lockdown 1(which was a fair bit stricter than this one). The new variant increases R by 0.5-07. So the chances are that this lockdown is just going to sustain the already too-high caseload and all hopes are being pinned on the vaccines in order to get it down.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-55544781

> I hope this is included in the modelling!

It may be, but no doubt your government are going to ignore it.

Post edited at 12:49
 Stichtplate 06 Jan 2021
In reply to NorthernGrit:

> A good smattering of "I've managed to get the two kids in school 5 days but only work 2 so looking forward to my 3 days off a week yippee!" posts on our parents group. Also seems that as long as one parent is a key worker it doesn't matter whether the other one could fill in.

and there in a nut shell is why nearly a year into a pandemic we're still struggling to implement any sort of effective containment strategy. Just too many selfish, entitled pricks about.

 Davidlees215 07 Jan 2021
In reply to minimike:

I've just been given a letter from work stating that I am a key worker that is just addressed to 'to whom it may concern'. I don't think I am a key worker apart from perhaps in very limited circumstances.

I carry out different surveys mainly to domestic properties but occasionally do asbestos surveys to other properties. The letter says we are working on contracts for NHS and national grid which may be true but I've never been involved in any of these. I'm sure there's an occasion where there could be an emergency relating to asbestos shutting a hospital ward and I might be called on to go and assess if it is asbestos and look at how to make safe but this would be very unusual and most of my work is routine. 

I'm certainly not going to give this letter to my son's school but I'm sure others would just to make their life easier. 

 marsbar 07 Jan 2021
In reply to Davidlees215:

Thank you for doing the right thing.

I feel like we are doomed.  

The information from SAGE in December was that children were something like 6 or 7 times more likely than  adults to be the person bringing the virus into the family home.  

All these employers selfishly lying to make out that ALL their employees are critical have blood on their hands as well as undermining the online learning.  

Learning is online for a reason. For teachers to be able to do a good job requires them not to be trying to teach online and in school at the same time. 

Post edited at 12:28
In reply to marsbar:

> Thank you for doing the right thing.

> I feel like we are doomed.  

> The information from SAGE in December was that children were something like 6 or 7 times more likely than  adults to be the person bringing the virus into the family home.  

> All these employers selfishly lying to make out that ALL their employees are critical have blood on their hands as well as undermining the online learning.  

> Learning is online for a reason. For teachers to be able to do a good job requires them not to be trying to teach online and in school at the same time. 

I do agency work for Royal Mail since my outdoor work went. They've given us letters too. On the one hand part of me thinks it's been issued to smooth any travel hassle if you were stopped. The less forgiving part of me believes its RM making a statement to staff - we need you in. 

We are busy but stuff covid related (kits etc) are being processed especially efficiently. Aunty Doris waiting for a Xmas card still? Meh. 

My two are off, with me, doing Zoom school lessons. 

Good luck with it. 

Post edited at 13:01
 spenser 07 Jan 2021
In reply to Davidlees215:

I am pretty impressed with my employer, they said that key worker letters could be provided on request for people who the status was relevant, if people had issues with homeworking and childcare they could be furloughed on a part/ full time basis. Staff who can't work from home for practicality/ safety/ mental health reasons can book a desk in the office. 

I'm not a parent and don't need anything saying I'm a key worker so I'm not taking advantage of either, however it struck me as a very pragmatic and reasonable approach. I might wind up in the office for one or 2 days at some point as the isolation is slowly driving me nuts (live on my own, not part of a social bubble with anyone else).

Post edited at 12:53
 Toccata 07 Jan 2021
In reply to minimike:

First lockdown saw my kids school with 11/57 pupils in as 'key workers'. This time around it's 33/59. Variety of reasons but the head explained more employers were claiming key worker status for their employees and expecting them at work. Interestingly their were a few additions under the 'no access to computers' too. Its a small school with quite a bit of space so the teachers aren't so bothered but it rather makes a mockery of the intent.


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