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‘Teachers with young children need the university’s support’

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The increasing Covid infection rates among young children, and the growing number of schools having to close their doors, lead to more and more teachers facing issues. The Teaching Academy of Utrecht University (TAUU) has written an open letter to the UU board, the faculty boards and the University Council to ask for more understanding and support for this group of students.

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Acknowledge the issues that lecturers who have young children are facing right now, and let them know it’s okay to drop their work, postpone it, or hand it over to others if there is no other option. That’s what the TAUU calls for in its open letter.

The TAUU asks the university to adopt the recommendations recently done by the Female Empowerment movement at the university in Maastricht. Those include flexible attitudes from managers, because lecturers with young children might not be able to honour their commitments.

Other recommendations include reassigning tasks among team members, and postponing non-essential tasks. It’s also recommended to hire additional assistants.

Managers should also actively point out the existing options for care leave, emergency leave, and other forms of special leave to their lecturers. The fact that some UU lecturers are advised by their managers to take vacation days when their children are ill, is unacceptable, according to the TAUU.

The network of UU lecturers has received countless messages in the past few days from concerned lecturers who have young children. The sharp rise in infections amongst young children lead to an ‘unbearable burden’ for lecturers. Those who constantly have to self-quarantine feel there’s no other choice but to change their classes or ask their co-workers. And that situation is unlikely to change.

The responses mainly came after a blog published by Bioinformatics lecturer Adrien Melquiond last week on the TAUU website. He receives near-daily push notifications from school, day care, or sports associations, informing him that his children have been in close contact with others who have tested positive for Covid. “This is a real struggle, and international teachers face an even bigger challenge because they don’t have any family here that can help out.”

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