Important information for School Support Staff

Download as PDF

Dear Member

We hope this finds you well.

As cases of Coronavirus continue to rise, especially within schools, there are several recurring questions members are asking and we thought it may be useful to share these, and the answers, with you.

Q. What happens if my child is told to self-isolate and I have to stay at home with them?

(The following is taken from the NJC Joint Secretaries Circular dated 6th March)

If an employee is caring for someone who has or may have coronavirus, this period of absence should also be regarded as self-isolation. Given the employee may then have been in direct contact with the virus we would expect home working arrangements to be then considered for the duration of the incubation period. Employers should keep in touch to support employees. Following any school closures, employers should be fully supportive of employees with childcare responsibilities and consider flexible working arrangements, including working from home, adapting working patterns to care for children or dependants or taking time off, whether this is special leave, annual leave or flexible working. 

If you are experiencing any problems in this regard, please let us know as GMB believes all employers should support their staff in self-isolating to ensure the safety and health of others.

Q. What is meant by a ‘contact’?

(The following is taken from Public Health England Guidance)

A ‘contact’ is a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 anytime from 2 days before the person was symptomatic up to 10 days from onset of symptoms (this is when they are infectious to others). For example, a contact can be:

-people who spend significant time in the same household as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19

► sexual partners

► a person who has had face-to-face contact (within one metre), with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, including:

  • being coughed on
  • having a face-to-face conversation within one metre
  • having skin-to-skin physical contact, or
  • contact within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact

► a person who has been within 2 metres of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes

►a person who has travelled in a small vehicle with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or in a large vehicle or plane near someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

Q. Will I need to self-isolate if I previously tested positive for COVID-19 but have now been notified that I am a contact of a person who has had a positive test result for COVID-19?

(The following is taken from Public Health England Guidance)

If you have previously tested positive for COVID-19, you will probably have developed some short-term immunity to the disease. However, it is not certain that will happen for everyone who has had COVID-19, nor do we know how long any immunity to the disease might last. If you are notified that you are a contact of someone who has had a positive test result for COVID-19, you must immediately self-isolate and follow this guidance. Self-isolating at home for 14 days is very important even if you have already had COVID-19. This will help protect your family, friends and the NHS. You will be helping to protect the most vulnerable in society, by limiting the spread of infection in the wider community and reducing the chance of a second wave of COVID-19.

Ensuring health and safety in the workplace has never been more important and increasing the number of GMB Representatives in workplaces assists GMB in being as effective as possible in protecting members at work.  A workplace representative keeps GMB members informed and represents GMB members within the workplace, therefore meaning issues and concerns can be addressed directly and quickly. Support staff carry out a vital and important role within schools and it is only right that they are heard. A workplace representative gives a voice to the issues that matter to support staff and at this time of the pandemic, your strength in the workplace comes from uniting with one another and standing together to be the difference you want to see, and standing together to make sure you are all safe. Since March, many members have come forward to be their workplace representative and if you do not currently have a representative within your school, and you are interested in becoming a GMB workplace representative, please contact us at If you have any colleagues who are not currently in a Union, they can join GMB online at

GMB is here for you and if you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Stay safe,

Lisa Bangs, GMB London Region Organiser — Schools and Academies

Keith Williams, GMB London Region Senior Organiser 


Follow us on Twitter: @schoolsgmblon