Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (523)

Bríd Smith

Question:

523. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Education the total number of days lost by primary and secondary schools teachers as a result of isolating as a result of close contact with a positive Covid-19 case for the weeks since schools reopened in September 2020. [38788/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The current COVID-19 arrangements in place for teachers are outlined in my Department’s Circular Letter 0049/2020.

The Circular outlines that special leave with pay may be granted to a teacher who has been (a) diagnosed with COVID-19 or (b) has COVID-19 symptoms and has been advised by the HSE/GP to self-isolate whilst awaiting their test appointment and test results.

In addition, the Circular caters for a teacher who has been advised by the HSE/GP to restrict their movements, where they are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case or lives with a person who has COVID-19 symptoms. A teacher who has been advised to restrict his/her movements and is medically fit for work, remains available for work and the employer must therefore facilitate alternative working arrangements to the maximum extent possible e.g. working from home.

Circular 0049/2020 also caters for a teacher who has been categorised by the Occupational Health Service as at a very high risk of serious illness from contracting COVID-19. Based on HSE advice, this teacher must not attend the workplace. However he/she remains available for work and the employer should prioritise alternative working arrangements to the maximum extent possible e.g. working from home.

Where a teacher is on COVID-19 special leave with pay, the employer may appoint a substitute, paid by the Department/ETB. Similarly, where a teacher is on restricted movement or categorised in the very high risk group and is working from home, the employer may appoint a substitute, paid by the Department/ETB.

As at 13 November, 2020 a total of 56,883 days have been recorded for the above COVID-19 categories in respect of primary and post primary teachers for the 2020/21 school year. This excludes ETB teachers as they are not paid on my Department’s payroll system.