Statement of the General Union on School Restarts in the Schools and Colleges Sector

covid 19 iThe General Union condemns the decision of the government to restart school classes from April.

If carried through at a time of rapid growth in COVID-19 cases it will put the lives of teachers, students and the general population in danger.

At the time of writing, the latest statements from the government appear to put a general reopening in doubt, with Hagiuda, the Education Minister, saying they (the government) will discuss the restart in prefectures with over 50 cases of COVID-19.

At the time of writing it is not clear whether or not individual schools will reopen.

While we strongly disagree with the move to restart classes in the present situation, if a decision is taken in many workplaces we may not be strong enough as a union to resist this.

If this happens our members will have no choice but to resume teaching classes.

If any restart of classes does take place it is essential that the safest possible workspace is created for our members to work in and for students to study.

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Prior to a return to work either branch meetings, and where not possible branch executives should hold digital meetings to discuss submitting demands to schools and colleges.

The following is a list of demands that branches might want to consider:

A. All staff with health conditions that put them at high-risk should be allowed to work from home on full-pay.

These may include those with immune deficiency, serious heart problems, those receiving medication for hypertension and diabetes.

Such staff should be encouraged to get a shindansho from their doctor, prior to the union raising the issue with the administration.

B. No increase in class sizes.

The size of large classes should be reduced.

The aim should be stick to WHO guidelines of 2 meters between students.

C. Ensure that only class rooms with good ventilation be used.

All must have windows that can be opened.

D. Schools should provide masks for staff and students who can’t obtain them.

Many schools and universities are insisting teachers provide their own masks.

This is difficult or impossible because masks are sold out.

Educational institutions should be urging government to ensure production of enough masks to guarantee supplies necessary for a class restart.

E. Provide hand-sanitizers in all classrooms being used.

F. Thermal cameras should be used on gates and entrances to schools and all those with a temperature should not be permitted to attend class.

I. Internet-based solutions should be used as an alternative to physical restarts.

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