Vocational staff wants booster shot, good ventilation and no hybrid classes
More than 60 percent of staff in secondary education are in favor of a booster shot. It shouldn't stop there. For example, the ventilation must also be put in order quickly.
This is evident from a survey by the AOb, which some 1250 employees in secondary education have completed. 'A booster shot for 55+ staff', according to one of the respondents. Others write: 'A booster shot is really essential'. "Teachers are now outlawed." And: 'Priority for a booster shot, for staff members who want it.'
The survey shows that, according to the respondents, a lot can still be done to reduce the number of infections in secondary schools. Such as improving ventilation. On this last point has the AOb also developed a guide. And number one on the list is a booster shot for the staff.
The joint trade unions and employers in education now also ask for a booster shot, they wrote in a letter to ministers Van Engelshoven, Slob and De Jonge.
'The jab is voluntary: you don't have to take it'
Daily director Jelmer Evers of the AOb points out that there is also opposition to the booster shot among staff. “People wonder whether it is morally justifiable to hand out booster shots when other countries in the world have not yet been vaccinated at all. I understand those objections. But the jab is voluntary: you don't have to take it. And I can imagine that older employees or people in poor health would like to have that shot. Everyone can make their own choice.”
Furthermore, booster shot or not, much can and must still be done to reduce the number of infections in schools. In the first place, for example, the ventilation is not in order at many institutions. Only 22 percent of the respondents are sure that the ventilation at his or her school is properly arranged, while 26 percent are sure that the ventilation is not in order. And another 16 percent have serious doubts about it.
A large majority of the respondents indicated that the windows of the rooms also need to be opened in order to get good ventilation. 'That was tenable in August and September,' says Evers. 'But now in the fall and later in the winter it will be a different story. Then everyone is back in the classroom in winter coats. Those are pretty bad working conditions.”
De AOb also has a around the ventilation manual and a step-by-step plan developed. With these documents, employees can point out poor ventilation at their own school. “The employer must then take action”, says Evers, “and ensure that things are settled. Good ventilation should have been arranged a long time ago. Even before corona: it is simply a requirement of the Working Conditions Act.”
The survey in secondary education also shows that many lessons are canceled if the teacher becomes ill. In 35 percent of the cases, a sick teacher is not replaced. 'A third of the lessons drop out', says a teacher in the survey. 'The intention is that those lessons will be received by colleagues, but that is impossible because so many colleagues are sick or are in quarantine. On a team of one hundred and twenty teachers, we miss twenty to twenty-five a day. So there is an extremely high dropout rate.'
“Some classes have a student as a nanny. Students can then do whatever they want – including games on their phones'
In 30 percent of the cases, when the teacher is sick, a support person or someone from outside the school comes to the front of the class, the survey shows. But is that still education? 'Some classes have a student as a nanny,' says one teacher. 'Pupils can then do whatever they want – including games on their phones.'
“All those lost lessons are dramatic,” says AObdriver Evers. “The teacher shortage has long since ceased to be limited to primary education: there are no more substitutes in secondary education in the event of illness. And the workload is increasing for those who can still come to school.”
The workload continues to increase because teachers are forced to teach hybrid lessons to students who are at home with corona complaints or in quarantine. A teacher argues in the survey for a ban on hybrid lessons. 'You need your full attention when teaching online. But that applies even more to physical lessons. Combining online and physical lessons in a hybrid lesson is an unacceptable increase in workload. It is very bad for the quality of education and even worse for the children.'
The teacher makes a comparison with the business world. 'For a bit of webinar, there are separate people for presentation, image, sound and chat. How can a teacher do all that on his laptop? While he also has to keep order, want to be empathetic and switch rooms – always having to connect and disconnect his equipment? Let's demand that hybrid lessons are automatically paid twice.'
'Hybrid teaching takes a heavy toll', says another teacher. 'I foresee a lot of illness among colleagues due to overload.' Evers takes these signals very seriously. “If an individual teacher does opt for a hybrid form for pedagogical-didactic reasons, then that should of course be possible. But it is now happening on too large a scale and that puts too much pressure on teachers.”
'I hear from many colleagues that they are having trouble making a test appointment because the centers are overloaded'
A wide range of measures is needed to prevent infections and to allow education to continue as well and safely as possible, Evers summarizes. “From better ventilation and the abolition of hybrid classes to better testing capacity. Because I hear from many colleagues that they have trouble making a test appointment because the centers are overloaded. As a result, staff may be quarantined unnecessarily long. A possible booster shot is one of the measures to spare education and teaching staff, but let's not just stare at it blindly."
Last night came the last advice from the OMT and the government response outwards. It contains additional measures for primary and secondary education. For example, the experts argue that staff should work from home if no education is required; meetings and study days should take place online. Parents, carers and other outsiders should be banned from the school and staff would do well to keep their distance from each other and the students. The urgent advice to self-test twice a week, as do the basic measures.