Queensland union says additional time must be used to prepare for safe Kinder return
The Queensland/Northern Territory branch of the Independent Education Union (IEU-QNT) has responded to the announcement made over the weekend that the start of the 2022 academic year will be delayed by two weeks to avoid opening schools during the predicted peak of the Omicron wave and to allow more time for children to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said modelling showed the likely peak of Omicron cases would be in the last week of January and the first week of February.
“This is a common sense move to avoid students heading back to primary or secondary school just as the rapidly rising number of Omicron cases in Queensland hits its peak,” the Premier said.
The announcement also covers Kindergarten services which operate in line with school terms, and IEU-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said Union members must now use the additional time to plan for “a very safe and supportive return to education”.
“The plan to manage the attendance at schools (from the week starting Monday 24 January 2022) for vulnerable children and the children of essential workers also needs to be confirmed by employers as soon as possible,” he added.
He identified a range of significant issues and concerns currently held by IEU-QNT members including:
- how staff and student exposures will be managed and return to school and kindergarten policies;
- what enhanced pandemic leave arrangements will be put in place;
- how air quality and ventilation improvements will be made in classrooms and other enclosed education settings;
- what ongoing work from home policies will be enacted for school staff with medical vulnerabilities;
- will Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) be provided for free to teachers, school staff and early childhood education employees given their role as frontline and vulnerable workers; and,
- what provisions will be put in place to support casual teachers and what could their role be in providing remote learning and assisting in filling possible staff shortages.
Responding on behalf of members to the notion of extending the length of the school year to accommodate the delayed start, Mr Burke said it will be “clearly rejected” by those working in the profession.
“IEU-QNT are dedicated professional who have put the safety and continued quality education of their students and school communities front and centre for the last two years and an extension of the school year would be poor recognition of that commitment,” Mr Burke said.
“Our members are ready to get on with doing their jobs, we just need their employers to ensure they can do so in a supportive and safe environment.”
To access the Premier’s announcement please see here.
Changemaker sought as Goodstart opens COO role for the first time in a decade
by Freya Lucas
Dreaming about owning your own centre? It’s easier than you think!
by Marketplace Editor
Flowers, chocolates, promises: now too late for early childhood educators
by Freya Lucas