The Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers, has got a document in hand with standard operating procedures for educators reporting having contracted COVID-19, or who have symptoms which might indicate that they might be infected.
This document, which has reached our offices without a header, a source or a signature, is not one which the UPE intends to acknowledge as an official document, as it has not been published as an official circular.
On close analysis, this document is full of shortcomings which are a cause for deep concern should it effectively be implemented. This protocol requires of the members of staff to report their suspected, or confirmed, state of ill-health, only and exclusively to the Head of School, who in turn is not to disclose this information to other members of staff. The Head of School is expected to contact the Head of the Network of Colleges, who in turn will contact the General Director of Educational Services. Should a member of staff have a COVID-19 positive result, the Health Authorities will contact the General Director and demand that contact tracing is facilitated through the provision of names and phone numbers of members of staff who might have been in contact with the infected person. Furthermore, no one other than the Health Authorities is to recommend that members of staff self-isolate or request to be tested.
The union believes that this supposed discretion when it comes to divulging such information would be nothing more than a reckless act which would be highly conducive to the birth of new clusters and, ultimately, to the spread of the virus into the community at large.
The union feels that the Head of School should inform the members of staff at the school, should this happen, so as to ensure that contact tracing and testing are not unnecessarily delayed, thus promoting the effective containment of the virus.
The union realises that such events may be a cause of concern and anxiety to members of staff, however, it would be much worse to throw caution to the wind and allow potentially infected individuals to roam around freely and start spreading the virus anew.
As mentioned before, since this is not an official document, the union will not be acting upon it, for the time being. However, it is the intention of the union to consider it a heads up to a possible situation which it will surely contest should the document be published as an official circular in the near future.