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Covid-19 - Frequently Asked Questions

covid19 FAQs

The ASTI is receiving calls from members regarding COVID-19. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers to them. This page is being updated regularly.

For FAQs on State Exams click here.

What pay is a substitute teacher entitled to?

Where a substitute was scheduled to work in the period of the school closure, the substitute will be paid for that scheduled absence.

The school should continue to record that claim. Substitute claims cannot be claimed in advance on the OLCS, therefore, it is important that schools key all absences and input claims for substitutes on the On-Line Claims System (OLCS) as normal.

Where a teacher was working casually in a school but had no expectation of what work would be available to them and of how many hours (if any) there might be, they will not be paid by the Department of Education and Skills. However, they may be entitled to receive the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment – see answer below.

I am a teacher and have been doing some paid substitution. Am I entitled to the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment?

In relation to teachers who were not contracted to work with a specific employer but who, in the normal course of events, would have carried out substitution work on a casual basis during the closure period, the Department of Education and Skills has reached agreement with the Department of Social Protection to extend the entitlements to the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment to such individuals on the following basis:

A substitute teacher will be entitled to the payment if they were in employment immediately before the pandemic. If the teacher has evidence that they worked in March (eg payslip) then they are entitled to apply provide they are aged 65 or under and live in the Republic of Ireland.

When an individual fulfils these criteria, they should apply for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment through

PLEASE NOTE: If you undertake any casual work you will lose your entire Covid-19 payment.

I am a student teacher and have been doing some paid substitution. Am I entitled to the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment?

The answer above applies to student teachers also.

I am a part-time teacher receiving the Covid -19 payment. If I am to undertake a casual day of substitution work how will that affect my Covid-19 payment?

 You will lose the entire payment. Once people return to work even sporadically or otherwise there is no entitlement to the pandemic unemployment payment. The must be fully unemployed.

I am a part-time teacher receiving the Covid -19 payment. Will I continue to receive this payment after the end of the school year on 31st May?

Yes.  Workers (including teachers) who have been in receipt of the payment, who qualified for it when the claim was made but will be off for the Summer, will continue to be entitled to the PUP.

I was on sick leave when schools closed – what do I have to do?

If you are still unfit for work, you should continue to provide certification to your school and to apply for illness benefit (if you pay Class A PRSI). Paid sick leave will continue in line with the provisions set out in Chapter 1 of Circular 54/19.

If you recover, you should indicate to your school/ principal that you are now fit for work, and they should update the OLCS accordingly. If you have been absent for a short-term illness, on a medical certificate ending during the current closure, the school/ principal will follow the dates of the certificate and can end the sick leave during the closure. The principal can accept the teacher’s own doctor’s confirmation of their fitness.

If a teacher has been absent for a longer period – more than twenty-eight days consecutively or cumulatively in the past twelve months – they must be referred to the OHS, Medmark, and be certified as fit to work in order for the school/ principal to end the period of sick leave on the OLCS.

Medmark is continuing to operate and will provide telephone consultations during this time, and will be in contact with affected members.

If you need to apply for Critical Illness Protocol, you should do so in the normal manner.

In summary, sick leave should be treated as if the school was in operation.

What happens to the leave I had applied for?

There are various categories of unpaid leave, with various conditions attaching to the schemes.

Any changes to unpaid leave will be at the discretion of the Board of Management/ ETB. This is not applicable to leave which has already been inputted and processed on the OLCS and therefore, cannot be changed (see above). Boards/ETBs should take into account whether or not they have engaged a substitute teacher to cover a leave absence, in considering such requests.

The DES has made it clear (see below) that recorded leaves of absence shouldn’t be amended solely on the basis of the current closure. However, Boards / ETBs may take into account that teacher’s personal circumstances may have changed since the application for leave was made and may wish to accommodate requests on that basis.

The DES information note reads: 

Pre-arranged or pre-existing leave will not be affected by an exceptional school closure. For instance, if a teacher has been approved for a period of parental leave, and their school must close due to Covid-19, the teacher will remain on parental leave for the agreed duration. Scheduled leave absences which have not yet been recorded on the OLCS and which have been sanctioned by the Board of Management should continue to be recorded on the OLCS for e.g. a staff member due to go on maternity leave.

What is the ASTI's position regarding remote teaching and learning?

It is expected that schools will not reopen before the end of this year’s normal school tuition calendar. Remote teaching and learning will continue. Prior to the Easter break, the ASTI wrote to the Department of Education and Skills and sought to achieve agreed operational guidelines to assist in this whole new way of delivering second-level education. Unfortunately, the Department of Education and Skills did not respond to that request and proceeded to issue a document entitled ‘Guidelines on Continuity of Schooling - For Primary and Post- Primary Schools’ dated 2nd April 2020.

This document was issued without any consultation with teacher unions despite the ASTI’s request and a number of representations having also been made to the Department by others. The ASTI protested this approach and an apology was issued.

What has been presented by the Department of Education and Skills is a poorly crafted document which is inconsistent and in a number of instances advocates unrealistic approaches and unwarranted outcomes, which will add greatly to the stress experienced by all concerned at this time.

ASTI believes that an important opportunity has been missed to provide agreed guidance that would be truly beneficial to all interested parties at this time. The published document enjoys no standing from an ASTI point of view and must be rejected as a purportedly useful intervention to support the continuity of teaching and learning during this Public Health Emergency.

The ASTI has issued advice to members on the continuity of teaching and learning.

This ASTI advice covers what is expected of teachers, support for teachers, staying protected online and tips for work/life balance.

I have a concern regarding the work of my current 2nd year students and 5th year students. What measures will be put in place to deal with deficits that arise that impact on their Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate Examinations respectively in 2021?

ASTI will be pursuing this issue of concern that has been raised by members.

Further information will be provided as soon as it is available.

When will schools re-open for all students to commence the 2020/2021 school year?

Decisions regarding all operational matters in schools are entirely guided by the advice of the public health authorities. 

Further information will be provided as soon as it is available.