The EIS has learned today (Thursday) that some colleges plan to deliver face-face teaching next week, whilst other colleges have confirmed that there will not be any face-to-face teaching until at least mid-February.

The EIS has raised safety concerns with the colleges as it does not believe that these colleges have carried out revised risk assessments for the new variant of COVID19. Furthermore, the EIS believes that these college’s determination to teach goes beyond Scottish Government guidance issued by the Minister on January 4th that stated that

“Colleges can open under their area’s protection level guidance as before but as with universities we will be reviewing this during the course of this week to see if any further changes are required and again numbers attending colleges should be kept at the absolute essential minimum.

“Our fundamental advice, for everyone, is to stay at home. It will only be permissible to leave home for an essential purpose. Anyone who is able to work from home, must do so. Education will remain an essential purpose, but I want to be clear that for universities and colleges any education that can be done online during this period of tighter restrictions must be done online.”

Furthermore, the decision to implement face-to-face teaching next week whilst the Government has committed to review the guidance this week seems both premature and risky for students and staff.

The EIS has shared its concerns with the Scottish Government around the fact that colleges (and indeed HEIs) are interpreting “numbers (of students) attending colleges should be kept at the absolute essential minimum” in different ways and that this should be clarified.

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan stated, “The EIS calls on all colleges and universities to suspend all face-to-face teaching during this national lockdown and rely on online teaching and learning. There is no reason for lecturers to attend their workplaces; they are not designated as key workers and they should be working from home as per the government’s advice.

“We will consider all options in order to safeguard the health and safety of our members.”