AEU: Education sector needs urgent national COVID plan

7 February 2022

The Australian Education Union stands ready to work constructively with the National Cabinet on plans for the return to school, as flagged by the Prime Minister on Wednesday.

“There are major challenges coming towards schools across the country as a result of the Omicron wave of the pandemic,” AEU Federal president Correna Haythorpe said.

“These include resourcing, occupational health and safety, the return to face-to-face learning, management of staff shortages and access to appropriate and consistent tests and testing protocols in the likely event of exposure to the virus.

“However, the current lack of clarity in relation to these issues is creating confusion and concern within school communities.

“There is an urgent need to develop clear guidelines and protocols that school communities can easily understand and have confidence in ready to go for the start of the school year.

“It is paramount that the knowledge and expertise of the teaching profession is harnessed by the state, territory and Commonwealth governments to create a plan that puts the best interests of students and education workers first.”

Any national plan should include:
•    Guidelines for the reopening of schools, accommodating the various needs of each state and territory where required,
•    Priority access to RATs and PCR tests, with clear and consistent testing, tracking and isolating protocols and procedures to manage staff shortages, and
•    Identification of and funding for infrastructure required to allow schools to accommodate social distancing, hygiene, ventilation and any other public health measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

“The AEU is ready to work with governments to ensure the voices of teachers, principals and education support staff are heard throughout this process.

“We remind all governments that a national plan that does not comprehensively consult with the teaching profession, through the AEU, is not a true national plan,” Ms Haythorpe said.

Media contact: Alys Gagnon, 0438 379 977, [email protected]

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