College where teacher was killed by Covid “encouraged staff members to break pandemic regulations’

Burnley College, the place where Donna Coleman was killed in January, was found to be violating Covid rules. The Health and Safety Executive even hosted a Christmas party at their college for all employees

Donna Coleman, a Burnley College professor, died of Covid.

A new report says that a college where a teacher had died from Covid advised staff not to follow the pandemic rules. It even held a Christmas party open to all staff.

Burnley College has become the first educational establishment found by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to have to breached health & safety laws during the pandemic.

This report came after an HSE investigation into Donna Coleman’s January death.

The college failed to meet the requirements of its accreditation. “meet social distancing and ventilation requirements”Donna worked in an office she shared with two of her colleagues, even though one had a positive test.

The staff of the further education college were also encouraged not to submit their findings. “close contacts”If they caught Covid.

Donna, left, expressed concern that the college did not follow Covid rules. She had spoken out on behalf of her sister



It was confirmed that there would be a Christmas party “for all staff”This was in the midst of a ban on gatherings and on the same date as the Downing Street bash.

Later footage of the party showed a staff member singing karaoke. “It’s Raining Men”In front of a cheering crowd.

Donna’s family was supported by the University and College Union who said that the school had accepted the case. “endangered the lives of staff and students”.

Jo Grady, General Secretary, said: “The Health and Safety Executive has found numerous instances where Burnley College failed in its duties to protect the safety of its staff and students during the deadly second wave of Covid.

“Although the HSE could not determine whether Donna’s death was directly due to Burnley’s failures, it is evident that the college put at risk the lives of students and staff.

“The college should not need a year-long investigation to address basic failings like refusing to allow staff to self-isolate when it was a legal requirement or to realise that it is incredibly reckless to push ahead with a Christmas party during a pandemic.

Donna was a student at Burnley College. Donna was a teacher there.



“Many workers have lost their lives to Covid and today our thoughts remain firmly with Donna’s family.”

Donna Coleman’s sister, Stephanie Coleman, 39, said that Donna, the programme leader, had raised concerns about Donna’s safety when students returned to college in September 2020.

She stated: “She was asked to go back to do some claims, so she did, as there was only her and another person in the office.

“She said that there was nothing, but she was able to explain that she had brought her own mask and used her own hand sanitizer. In September, however, all staff members and 100% of students returned.

“She told me: ‘There’s 15 of us in our staff room, and there’s no social distancing going on.”

Stephanie stated that there was a culture at the college of denial regarding Covid, with staff commenting often that it didn’t exist in its premises.

She stated: “The line was “Covid doesn’t exist at Burnley College – are you sure?”

“Burnley, however, had one the highest rates in the nation.”

Stephanie urged her sister to complain, but Donna said that she was afraid of losing her job.

She said: “We spoke every day. She stated that they were very, extremely close. “Steph, I’m frightened for my job, I can’t afford not to be in.”

Stephanie stated that her sister started feeling unwell in the second week of Dezember 2020 as more cases were reported at the college.

Donna, second from left, tested positive to Covid on December 14,2000



She stated: “On Friday, December, 11, she felt poorly. I was in Lanzarote at the time, and I’d not seen her for two weeks as I didn’t want any contact before going away.

“I replied, “Are you okay, it’s Friday!” She responded, “I don’t feel very well.” She stated, “I just don’t feel that great. It’s been a hectic week.”

“Two people from her office tested positive over that weekend, so then she went for a test.

Donna tested positive for Covid on December 14, during a week when at least 14 other staff members from the college also went down with the virus.

But despite the outbreak in positive cases, Stephanie, who previously worked at the college, claims that bosses arranged a Christmas party for staff, flouting Covid regulations.

She added: “I was aware of the Christmas party and knew it was coming. Every year, it was a well-known event.

“They might have slightly adapted it during the day, but they still provided everybody with a couple of drinks of alcohol each and food separately.

She added: “People are sick at home. We all want Christmas parties. But we don’t.

“You’re a massive college in the centre of town. The rules at the time are that you don’t do it – so why are you?”

Donna, who was suffering from Covid, was admitted to hospital on December 28th. She died on January 6, 2021.

Stephanie feels that the college failed to care for her sister and didn’t consider her health concerns seriously.

She stated: “It was like ‘we’re a bubble that’s exempt from it because we’re carrying on as business as usual’, when everybody else in the country – well, most other people in the country – were following the rules.”

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