Portugal: Education union calls for adequate framework to ensure the health and safety of teachers in risk groups
The Federação Nacional da Educação has condemned the fact that the lack of a clear and appropriate national framework to regulate leaves during the pandemic has led to nearly all teachers belonging to high-risk groups still being present in class to teach.
The education union surveyed 1,316 teachers throughout Portugal to assess the conditions for educators in schools since their reopening during the pandemic.
Through this survey, FNE found out that more than 1 in 4 teachers and education support personnel (26.4 % and 27.8 % respectively) belong to a high-risk group with regards to the COVID-19 crisis. This represents an estimated 38,000 teachers at risk.
Despite 13 % of all teachers having indicated their wish to telework (as of 30 October), only 700 teachers had submitted medical statements allowing them to stay home.
According to FNE, the absence of a clear and appropriate national framework to regulate leaves during the pandemic explains why nearly all teachers belonging to high-risk groups are still going to school to teach.
The teacher union reminded Portuguese education authorities that teachers, given the nature of their work, are legally entitled to opt for telework and that telework is mandatory for teachers belonging to a high-risk group.
FNE also stressed that the lack of a clear framework regulating COVID-19 leaves constitutes an impediment to teachers’ exercising their rights and must be promptly addressed.
Education International supports its affiliate’s demand for an appropriate framework to ensure educators and students’ health and safety in the classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Education International’s Guidance to reopen schools and education institutions published earlier this year can be found here.