FAQs for substitute teachers

Why is there no separate guidance specifically for substitute teachers in the New School Day document?

During the period that a substitute teacher is engaged to work in any school, the same ‘New School Day’ advice and guidance will apply to substitute teachers as applies to permanent teachers at that school. 

In one week I could potentially be working across 5 different school settings (primary, post-primary & special needs). How can I ensure the safety of myself, the pupils & other teaching & support staff?

While you are engaged to work in a school, you should follow the New School Day advice and guidance as well as any other protocols put in place at the school to help safeguard your own health and that of the pupils and other teaching & support staff. If in doubt, check with the school Principal before you accept an engagement to satisfy yourself of what Health & Safety measures are in place at the school. The decision as to how many schools or different school settings in which you choose to work is entirely at your own discretion. For each school that you choose to work in, you should check with each school Principal what protocols the school has put in place and follow them.

As a substitute teacher am I entitled to priority testing if I experience any Covid-19 symptoms?

PHA guidance states that anyone who develops symptoms of Covid-19 should seek testing right away. If you are engaged to work as a substitute teacher, you will be entitled to priority testing as a key worker. Find out how to get tested here: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/covid-19-coronavirus/testing-and-tracing-covid-19/testing-covid-19   if in doubt call the 111 Health Service helpline for advice.


If I have to self-isolate am I entitled to statutory sick pay? 

If you are required to self-isolate as a result of COVID-19 you will be entitled to receive pay for the duration of your booking. Self-isolating as a result of COVID-19 is not counted as sickness.

How do I deal with a pupil showing symptoms of Covid-19? As a sub teacher, I haven't received any training on this unlike permanent members of staff. 

The New School Day guidance advises that pupils must not attend school if they display any symptoms of the virus. Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 must follow the Public Health Agency guidance ‘COVID-19: Information for the Public’. This includes parents ensuring that their children do not travel to or attend school if they or a member of their household has symptoms. If a child or young person develops symptoms whilst at school, they should be collected by their parent(s). Please check local arrangements with the school Principal when you accept an engagement. Further advice and guidance is available at page 9 of the guidance : Guidance to support safe working in educational settings in Northern Ireland  

Am I classed as an 'Adult visitor to school' and if so, does that mean that I should be wearing a face mask and/or visor at all times which the New School Day guidance says? Should I bring my own PPE or is it the responsibility of the school to provide this?

A substitute teacher is classed as a person who works in the school for the period that they are engaged. The PHA has published guidance to support safe working in educational settings in Northern Ireland Guidance to support safe working in educational settings in Northern Ireland. 
   
This advises that routine use of PPE within education settings is not required other than for certain tasks deemed to be of higher risk of transmission.  If you have any concerns, please check the school’s position on PPE before you accept the engagement.

Should every school have a H&S risk assessment drawn up specifically for sub teachers and if so, should this be available for public viewing on their school website?

There are 32 references to risk assessments in the New School Day guidance : Northern Ireland Re-Opening Schools Guidance - New School Day Version 2 - 13 August 2020. During the period that you are engaged to work in a school as a substitute teacher, you should follow the advice and guidance as well as any other protocols put in place at the school to help safeguard your own safety and that of the pupils and other teaching & support staff, in the same way as permanent teachers. If in doubt, check with the school Principal before you accept an engagement to satisfy yourself of what risk assessments have been carried out at the school.

With advice for schools constantly changing, can links to the latest DE and PHA guidance and FAQs for substitute teachers uploaded to NISTR?

FAQs for substitute teachers have now been published. Substitute teachers can access advice and guidance on the DE web site.

Can I work as a substitute teacher if I am pregnant?

Yes. Please see below the link to the Northern Ireland Re-Opening Schools - New School Day Guidance published on 13 August – the guidance relating to pregnancy is on Page 53 :
 
Northern Ireland Re-Opening Schools Guidance - New School Day Version 2 - 13 August 2020 . 

The Guidance was co-designed by the Department of Education, school leaders and key partners – in particular a Practitioners’ Group made up of school Principals and has been informed by advice provided by the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer and SAGE based on the scientific and public health advice available at the time of writing. 
 
The successful return to school not only requires schools to deploy effective measures to manage risk but the continued support of parents, pupils and wider society to be vigilant and act responsibly within public health guidelines. 

Latest PHA advice on pregnancy during COVID 19 :

Up to 28 Weeks of pregnancy

If a pregnant woman is under 28 weeks, a risk assessment should be undertaken and precautions such as PPE put in place to minimise risk in the work environment.
Post 28 Weeks of pregnancy

If a pregnant woman is over 28 weeks, a risk assessment should be undertaken and precautions such as PPE put in place to minimise risk in the work environment. If the pregnant woman has a heart or lung condition, it is advised that they should not have direct contact with service users/ children. They could undertake other duties e.g. administrative work.

Individual considerations when carrying out a risk assessment linked to pregnancy include:
The medical history and current health status of the individual worker needs to be considered. The Principal/ Manager may consider an Occupational Health referral for an individual if they still remain concerned.
The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Guidance is designed primarily for Health Workers who would have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than the general population. The Chief Medical Officers of the 4 Nations have noted that Office of National Statistics identifies teaching as a lower risk profession.  
 
You may wish to agree with the school Principal what personal protection measures you feel are appropriate for you. 

Can I claim Statutory Maternity Pay?

If you satisfy the normal conditions for Statutory Maternity Pay, yes.
 

Will there be another Income Support Scheme for Substitute Teachers?

On 19 May 2020, the Minister announced a Scheme for ‘casual’ day-to-day substitute teachers which provided support to alleviate any potential hardship due to the sudden school closure and unexpected loss of opportunity to work and earn salary in April to June 2020. Schools have now re-opened, and hence no further payments will be made through the scheme. The Minister has no plans to introduce another income support scheme for substitute teachers.

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