Shielding - should I really be? - Asthma UK communi...

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Shielding - should I really be?

KJ48
KJ48

Hi

This might be a slightly backwards question to what many may feel! Firstly to explain, I am a teacher and deputy head at a secondary school. I was shielding through lockdown on the government advice re asthma and have been teaching in school as normal most of this term. School feels as safe as it can be and we have had very few covid cases. When the new guide to shielding came out a couple of weeks ago I spoke to the head who said it was my choice what to do - they would put further measures in place for me at work or would support me working from home. I feel safe at work so continued to go in. A week ago the head called me in and told me he had just found out that I am not insured and would have to work at home - essentially if anything happened to me school would not be insured for any lawsuit. One other teacher in the same situation at school - we were both sent home. Last week I have been teaching from home, being live streamed on to the whiteboard - not the same but at least the kids are getting taught. School have done all they can to support us. I have found the last week really hard though and want to get back in. I have never felt I really am CEV though technically I hit the criteria (symbicort and spiriva). Most of the time I get by on a half dose of spiriva though. I have never felt in danger with asthma, never been to hospital and never felt worse than uncomfortable - hardly a description of severe asthma as far as I can see. Not an issue if we are allowed back on 2 December but worried that if not, the long term effect of not being able to go into work will have a bigger impact on my health than covid might!! If it does extend I will of course ring my gp and follow her advice. School will support me whatever (I am lucky there - have read some shocking posts from other CEV teachers where schools have been far less supportive). Really just wondered if anyone else is in the same boat - I know my health comes first (and my wife is happier now I am at home) but the truth is I don't feel particularly vulnerable. Maybe I'm just being naive! Am I being stupid?

41 Replies
oldestnewest

Are you able to sign a disclaimer saying you won’t sue the school if you become ill ? Marilyn

KJ48
KJ48 in reply to mariyn

Apparently not - I asked and the head even asked the insurance company before I asked the question. Feels a bit nanny state that i can't!!

Poobah
Poobah in reply to mariyn

There are no opt outs from health, safety and employment laws. The employer's responsibility remains regardless. If such a clause was allowed it could (& would) be used by unscrupulous employers.

B_Asthma
B_Asthma in reply to mariyn

That type of disclaimer is not legally enforcable since you cannot consent to injury, especially life-threatening.

Hi KJ48

I was so relieved to read your post!

I feel in a similar position although I have this week managed to come to an agreement with work. I am a chemist and work in an industrial setting. My work have been great all through but as soon as any mention of shielding they send me home and say that they are not insured even though they( and I) want me to be at work!

I do have pretty random asthma and inject a biological.. but things have been so much better since taking it.

Also I only work with very few others and we have a huge amount of safe space.

Like yourself I don’t feel at any massive risk at work and I feel being at home ( where I can’t really carry out my research!) is doing my health a lot more harm!

I even pleaded with my cons to remove me from the shielding list but to no avail!😬

However he did say that ultimately it was up to myself and my employer... so we have come to an agreement whereby I have signed a liability clause for Covid and they have provided me with my own lab with all of my equipment .. everything really and I will be returning on Monday!!😊

I am very relieved but I it has taken all this time to sort out. However I feel that this is a great step for me ( and the company) going forward - esp if there are any more lockdowns.

Sorry for the long post.. but maybe you could approach the school /union for something similar??

I wish you well...all teachers are doing a marvellous job!

Take care 😊👍

KJ48
KJ48 in reply to Pipsqueak77

Thanks for the reply. Glad you got things sorted. I will certainly be trying to do something similar if it happens again / beyond december 2. Actually glad there are others in the same boat. Good luck with the research (am an ex research chemist myself, now moved into teaching!)

Pipsqueak77
Pipsqueak77 in reply to KJ48

Hi KJ48That’s amazing!!😊😊👍

Love chemistry.... did think about teaching once but I have a 12 year old son and that is quite enough!!😂

I hope you manage to get something sorted that suits you/your family/school.

Take care😊👍

KJ48
KJ48 in reply to Pipsqueak77

Thanks. Two asthmatic chemists - what are the odds!! Love the subject too. Actually feel better getting your reply. Good luck next week and take care.

We have to look at this from a legal standpoint. Your employer has a legal duty of care for you and has to abide by the regulations. Not to do so could lead to prosecution and associated penalties. The law does not give the employee a loop hole to sign a disclaimer as it could be exploited by less scrupulous employers.Even if you decide that you're not at risk and go to the workplace, it is your employer who will face the law and there will be little mitigation in claiming that you insisted on working at school rather than at home.

You could persuade your GP or consultant to rescind your vulnerable status, but it should be a clinical decision.

It's lovely to read about someone's passion for their work and I trust you'll be back at school very soon. As a key worker and because of your clinical status, you will be at the head of the queue for the vaccine. Every cloud.

KJ48
KJ48 in reply to Poobah

Thanks - I thought this was the case but just find it frustrating. Will check with GP. An early vaccination would be a silver lining!

Pipsqueak77
Pipsqueak77 in reply to Poobah

Hi Poobah

Can I just add though.. there would be very little point in pursuing your employer in the event of catching Covid on a return to work. It is absolutely impossible to prove where you caught the virus.. so legal redress against the employer would not be worthwhile anyway.🤔

Take care😊👍

Poobah
Poobah in reply to Pipsqueak77

I think you've missed my point. The authorities who take employers to court, without complaint from an employee, would only be prosecuting based on the disregard of following legal protocols. If there was an outbreak of covid at a workplace and there was an investigation, the employer would have to demonstrate that they did everything expected to protect their staff. That goes for all safety measures, not specifically to covid.

I should add, schools have great experience when it comes to H&S and I'm sure the Head is aware of their responsibility. At the end if the day, it's their position /job on the line and even a bad H&S review after a covid outbreak could leave them open to questions, and a loss of confidence from the school governors, if that review demonstrated that some protocols were compromised.

Pipsqueak77
Pipsqueak77 in reply to Poobah

Hi

Shielding is not legal protocol.. just merely advice and voluntary. You don’t have to legally shield..

😊👍

Poobah
Poobah in reply to Pipsqueak77

See my edited response. Setting covid aside, reasonable adjustments to safeguard staff are a legal responsibility.

Pipsqueak77
Pipsqueak77 in reply to Poobah

Hi

Yes.. but we are talking specifically about Covid and shielding... and as has already been said there might be many other ways to be protected at work which do not involve outright shielding and should be explored by employee and employers working together.

😊

Poobah
Poobah in reply to Pipsqueak77

I understand the Head has made their decision and explained why they made it. I was trying to explain why the employee could put their employer in jeopardy by ignoring their decision to follow advice provided by occupational health, or in this case, insurance policy requirements. If no decision had been made based on advice, then yes, occupational health could be asked to review the matter and again, once recommendations are given then they should be followed. However, I doubt OH would go to the trouble of a review in this case when the individual has received a shielding letter. They would probably support the Head's decision.

I've come across a few cases where employees have not responded well to reasonable adjustment recommendations. It's a matter of both employee and employer understanding their responsibility in the process and how their actions can impact negatively on the other party.

Pipsqueak77
Pipsqueak77 in reply to Poobah

Hi KJ48

Apologies for hijacking your post!😬

I hope you are able to come to an arrangement that suits you soon..🤞👍

😊👍

KJ48
KJ48 in reply to Pipsqueak77

No apology necessary - have found it interesting to read. I understand the legal need to protect employees and am just glad I am not the only one struggling in this way

Poobah
Poobah in reply to Pipsqueak77

😂😂😂 I've had soooo many discussions like this. Unfortunately, some of them happen after things have gone badly wrong.I hope you don't face further lockdowns and the vaccine sets us free to enjoy life again.

mylungshateme
mylungshateme in reply to Poobah

Poobah I think it's really good we get to see things from all angles including a legal perspective. When were in the thick of it its easy to not see whole picture so thanks always interesting 🙂

Poobah
Poobah in reply to mylungshateme

Thank you. 🙂

Hi. Do you fall into the clinically vulnerable or extremely clinically vulnerable? I was shielding the first time but don't need to now as I am in the clinically vulnerable.

KJ48
KJ48 in reply to Franno

CEV unfortunately - though I don't really believe I should be.

Readingwheezer
Readingwheezer in reply to KJ48

Is that based on the updated list or the original list? I don't know what spiriva is but they updated is to include steroid use. I'm no longer CEV but still get the government texts and emails.

KJ48
KJ48 in reply to Readingwheezer

Was on both original and latest list. Fortunately lockdown now over and back at work - hoping there are no more lockdowns!

twinkly29
twinkly29 in reply to KJ48

I think the lists this time were the same as last time.

Bless, hence why the school has made that decision. It must be difficult as you want to be in work to be there for the students and support colleagues but please remember you need to look after yourself in these times.X

Available data shows there is no increased Covid risk to people who have controlled asthma . In fact the information that exists seems to point to there being a slight advantage for asthma patients as it is thought the asthma treatments help suppress Covid effects .

I'm sorry but I'm struggling to understand what the problem is. So, you've been declared CEV by the people who deal with asthma and other respiratory problems day in, day out. But you think otherwise, because nothing really bad has happened to you... yet. Because of this CEV status your workplace are wanting to do the responsible thing and take you out of harms way, but you don't want to. You think this is a bit too much "nanny state". You want to work face to face with the kids as doing something online doesn't work for you. A couple of questions come to mind.

1/ What do you say to children who don't want to do what they're told? i.e. Don't run out into the road... (answer) I've never been hit by a car. (your answer?)

2/ How would your kids react if, God forbid, you caught the virus and either you had it quite lightly but ended up with Long Covid, leaving you totally wiped out and unable to go anywhere far less work. Or option 'B'

Apologies in advance as I really don't want to offend anyone, but we're in the middle of a major health emergency and I've seen far too many adults not taking this seriously enough and then ending up in a bad place. I wish my workplace took the virus as seriously as yours. Keep safe or at least good luck.

KJ48
KJ48 in reply to Jimmy-Lyden

No offence taken and I do agree. Have been taking it seriously but struggling not to be at work and was looking to see if anyone else was in a similar position. Will always follow GP advice- as I said I will phone and check my CEV status and if she says it stays, then she is the one who knows what she is doing and I will continue shielding.

Jimmy-Lyden
Jimmy-Lyden in reply to KJ48

Cool! Please don't be another needless victim of this virus. On Friday I found out that someone I know, someone I work with, is now spending his third week in hospital. Earlier this year he argued it was just a flu thing and how it wouldn't stop him coming to work, scoffing at folk who wore masks etc, declaring folk like me who were shielding were just faking it and lazy. I think he'll see things differently now. Anyway, good luck and keep safe.

My wife and I work with COVID. She is front-line and I am managerial, back-office. Also, I have severe asthma that is not well-controlled and I was on the shielding list in March. From my knowledge COVID is something you really do not want to risk if you have asthma and I have been working at home. Like yourself, I prefer to be in the office but I know the damage COVID can do. Because of the risk, I minimise my contact with others and where possible, my spouse goes into stores. My advice, based on my knowledge and experience, you are better off working at home and staying healthy than risking exposing yourself.

Poppins23
Poppins23 in reply to B_Asthma

I am in a very similar position. I had an email from my employer following the update from the dfe regarding CEV. Initially she was happy to allow me to continue to work., but following the update advised me that I wouldn’t be able to. Like you I would much rather be at work as teaching remotely is no fun and can be very stressful. I agreed to shield, but was going to clarify with my gp if it was necessary. Initially I was given conflicting advice from my surgery which didn’t help. I’m praying that I will be able to return to work next week as I feel that as a school we are taking every precaution we can. Hand washing and and sanitising is a well established routine, the children remind me to wear my shield when I am unable to maintain a safe distance. We are scrupulous about our bubbles and each bubble has a separate temporary ‘staff room’ The only time we get to socialise is over teams ☹️

B_Asthma
B_Asthma in reply to Poppins23

If you are following the precautions like hand-washing, hand sanitising, social distancing, wearing a mask, and cleaning the risk is there. However, the risk is significantly reduced. From my knowledge and experience, if you have asthma and you contract COVID, it is more likely that you will have a longer recovery period and you do risk a greater chance of hospitalisation. Does this mean everyone with asthma will be sicker with COVID? Not necessarily but the risk does exist.

Im not a at school But work in essential retail aswell as pregnant I was asked to come back but had to sign a disclaimer saying They wasn't responsible if anything happened to me after a lot of thought and talks and then going to hr directors I was put back on furlough as I'm 30 weeks Now which causes great risks I really think at this point they are doing what they can for you and they have to cover their backs in their words they have a duty of care though it may not be good for you mentally for me I felt unsafe and at risk and was fighting to leave rather than stay as they encouraged me to come back and I didn't like signing a disclaimer when I really felt unsafe for my newborn it was a hard fight as I already had 6 months off plus around 2-3 on sick for another condition but in the end they took my midwifes advise which is to be furloughed if I hadent had professional advice I would still be going in and it has now become a choice according to new regs so you should ask is it not a choice ?And say you will sign if you are not concerned .If they say you have to stay at home try and look at it positively and a new experience

Carriejen
Carriejen in reply to Afrohair

I work in essential retail too, and I was advised I had to Shield during the English 4 week lockdown. I dont live in England and I wasn't happy but was told it was not optional, I couldn't even sign a disclaimer. However, they did reassess and change their minds.

Afrohair
Afrohair in reply to Carriejen

I live in England honey and they brought me back during the 4 week I'm still of now thank goodness as the scheme runs till March

Carriejen
Carriejen in reply to Afrohair

I've been back at work since August. Not really keen to shield again, but the Scottish government have said shielding if it comes back won't be as strict as last time. Fingers crossed the vaccine plans go well 😃

Afrohair
Afrohair in reply to Carriejen

Aww it can impact your mental health for some but I'm quite happy being off as I'm in late stages of pregnancy and want to keep my baby safe also have plenty to do at the minute maternity kicks in next month.working retail is good but where I am people don't want to stick within the rules which makes the job harder I'm in a large department store which sells other things aswell and barley anyone is buying essentials x

Carriejen
Carriejen in reply to Afrohair

I'm in a small community supermarket and people don't want to stick to the rules either but I take great pleasure in telling them (politely) to move 🤣🤣

Afrohair
Afrohair in reply to Carriejen

Haha with me I don't want to risk confrontation and get hurt as we have a lot of low life's come in ready to hit a woman but I know what you mean we have a lot of staff that do it and protect me should I come into any danger x

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