Staff absence policy | 21.04.20

During the current period of emergency measures in the UK, Woodcroft will be open during term time to provide services to our pupils and their parents and carers. The national lockdown and other isolation measures and government guidance means that we will have to adapt our staff Sickness absence and Staffing arrangements and cover policies.

For the time being, this policy overrides them both. However, the regular policies remain in place for any aspects not covered here.

Which staff need to attend school?

Woodcroft is a school for vulnerable children, and as such our workforce are considered critical workers exempt from some of the restrictions on leaving home during working hours. We will expect all categories of staff who are able to attend to come to school on a rota in order to provide services and allow colleagues a break. We will be running with the absolute minimum staff required to keep everyone who needs to be at school safe and to follow the social distancing guidelines. This means that no one should come in to school premises until they are required on the rota. 

Which staff do not need to attend school?

We recognise that not all staff can attend at present and we want to support colleagues whether they work at home or at the school premises. In general, we hope that everyone who does not fall into one of the categories below will be on the rota to support pupils and colleagues. The categories are based on the schools workforce guidance, which was updated on 9 April, along with other related guidance.

Temporary staff absence categories

All schools have to record staff and pupil attendance and report regularly on this to the DfE. We need to be able to clearly identify the reasons for non-attendance and have introduced a new categorisation system for staff absence. Office staff will need to identify a category and where necessary staff will need to provide evidence to support some categories.

Category A – Clinically extremely vulnerable people

A-1  Staff with serious underlying health conditions* which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19), should rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe. Staff in this position must not attend work. People in this category will have received a communication from the NHS, or if not they should contact their GP.

A-2  If you are living with someone in this clinically extremely vulnerable group you should not attend school. Staff may need to provide evidence for this category.

Category B – Other vulnerable groups

B-1  Staff with other specified conditions** that mean they are at increased risk of serious illness as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) should also work from home. Staff may need to provide evidence for this category.

B-2  If you are living with someone in this group then guidance states that you should be able to attend work if you practice social distancing and good hand hygiene. If you have concerns about the ability to practice social distancing at work, and someone you live with falls into this “Other vulnerable groups” category then please speak with Brian. Staff may need to provide evidence for this category.

Category C – Self isolation with symptoms of coronavirus

C-1  Staff who are self-isolating with symptoms of coronavirus should remain at home according to the general government guidance. From 20 April Woodcroft will require confirmation (e.g. from NHS 111) for this category.

C-2  Staff who are self-isolating because some they live with is self-isolating with symptoms of coronavirus should remain at home according to the general government guidance. From 20 April Woodcroft will require confirmation (e.g. from NHS 111) for this category.

Category D – Other sickness absence

D-1  Normal staff sickness procedures apply.

Category E – Staff providing childcare in exceptional circumstances

E-1  School staff are deemed critical workers and alternative local authority school arrangements should now be in place for you. You are expected to use these alternative school arrangements or make other arrangements on days where you are required to be on the Woodcroft rota. Where the children of staff fall in to the vulnerable or self isolation categories A, B or C, we will use these categories to record absence. However, we recognise that there may be exceptional circumstances where staff are not able to make alternative arrangements for children who are not in the other categories. Please contact Brian if your childcare arrangements make it difficult for you to go on to the Woodcroft staff rota.

Category F – Other authorised absence

F-1  As usual, other absences can be authorised by the head teacher for one-off matters or or other personal circumstances.

* Definition of Category A

Clinically extremely vulnerable people may include the following people. Disease severity, history or treatment levels will also affect who is in the group.

1. Solid organ transplant recipients.

2. People with specific cancers: people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy; people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy; people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment; people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer; people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors; people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drug.

3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary (COPD).

4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell).

5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.

6. Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

People who fall in this group should have been contacted to tell them they are clinically extremely vulnerable.

If you’re still concerned, you should discuss your concerns with your GPor hospital clinician.

** Definition of Category B

This group includes those who are:

1. Aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions).

2. Under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (ie anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds): chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthmachronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis; chronic heart disease, such as heart failurechronic kidney disease; chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis; chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s diseasemotor neurone diseasemultiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy; diabetes; problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed; a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy; being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above).

3. Those who are pregnant.

Relevant guidance

This policy, and the categorisations within it, has been drafted in accordance with the latest Government guidance, as of today Tuesday 21 April. Excerpts of the relevant guidance have been collated into a single pdf document which can be downloaded here. Please note that guidance should be read in full in order to understand the full legal or health implications. These excerpts are offered in good faith and are intended to provide explanations of the Staff absence policy rather than to stand as guidance in their own right. Guidance changes regularly and we will update this policy if new schools workforce guidance requires such a change.