13 January 2022
Teachers, principals and education support staff, along with parents and school communities, who were expecting a national plan for schools today, have been left standing empty-handed by the Prime Minister.
“The Prime Minister has failed to set out a national plan today,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“After flagging a national plan last week, today all the Prime Minister provided was an announcement that there would be another announcement, delivered within a frame that says schools must be open to provide a babysitting service for the broader workforce.
“This is deeply offensive and shows no respect for the thousands of dedicated and professional teachers, principals and education support staff who have worked incredibly hard to provide a high-quality education during the extremely difficult circumstances of the pandemic. They put the needs of students first.
“It is unfortunate that the Prime Minister has not.
“The extension of the close contact isolation exemptions to include the education workforce will exacerbate the health and safety concerns that are already being expressed by our members.
“As a consequence, the AEU would advise our members that if they feel vulnerable as a close contact or they are worried about the potential risk to others, then they should not be going into a school environment.”
The AEU continues to call for a national plan to provide a clear path forward on the challenges schools will face from as soon as day one of Term 1.
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.
“Critically, the teaching profession, through the AEU, must be consulted on the development of the national plan. We stand ready to work constructively with all governments.”
Media contact: Dishi Gahlowt, 0434 159 833, [email protected]