AEU calls for support, consistency and clarity for those working in preschools
The announcement on Sunday night by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, that preschools and schools should remain open, has caused “major confusion for principals, teachers, education support staff and parents,” the Australian Education Union (AEU) has said.
This confusion has led AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe to call on all governments to “have consistency with the decisions that are being made for schools, preschools and TAFE”.
“We are very concerned about our members and their ongoing health and safety. These are unprecedented times and we must all work together constructively to resolve the situation. However this requires leadership from government,” Ms Haythorpe said, calling on the Commonwealth and state and territory governments to develop a smooth transition process clearly outlined which protects staff and children from COVID-19.
The AEU will hold an urgent meeting today with Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan and Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy in the hopes of gaining some clarity, with Ms Haythorpe noting the workplace health and safety implications for those who are employed in the sector, and potentially being exposed to the virus through children and families.
“In particular, employees who are more vulnerable because of their own health or their family circumstances should be working from home now. This must urgently be facilitated by all governments,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“There is widespread concern about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on preschools, schools and TAFEs if they are to remain open. While schools are the focus of public attention at the moment, governments must not forget preschools and TAFEs,” she added.
Should Australia move to a similar model as delivered in the UK, where schools and early learning settings have remained open only for children of essential workers and those who are in vulnerable circumstances, educators and providers would need urgent information about how such a model will roll out, Ms Hayworth emphasised.
“It is of vital importance that staff and parents maintain confidence about the procedure taken to manage the ramifications of COVID-19 at a national level,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“This is a huge concern for the education profession and the community. All governments must urgently provide clarity on this issue and ensure that community and teacher concerns are addressed.There simply is no other choice.”
For support and information in managing COVID 19 in an Australian ECEC context, please see here.