IEU adds to call for more attention to ECEC from Government as COVID-19 continues

IEU adds to call for more attention to ECEC from Government as COVID-19 continues

by Freya Lucas

January 13, 2022

The NSW/ACT branch of the Independent Education Union (IEU), which represents more than 32,000 early childhood teachers, school teachers, principals and school support staff throughout NSW and the ACT, is warning that COVID-related staff shortages leading to early childhood centre closures is foreshadowing what’s ahead when schools reopen.


Omicron, the Union argued, has exacerbated the ongoing staffing shortages which have been challenging the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector for years. 


“Early childhood teachers have been on the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis since it began,” a Union spokesperson noted, staying open throughout the most recent NSW lockdown, with no option for remote learning. 


Early childhood teachers cannot socially distance themselves from their young charges, who are not vaccinated. Early childhood centres and directors are telling the IEU they feel abandoned by the government in the face of this crisis. 


Centres don’t know what’s happening from one day to the next, one early childhood centre director says, and this uncertainty is only amping up pandemic anxieties among staff, parents and children. “The rules keep changing, and we’re in a state of confusion,” the director told the IEU.


The Union said it is crucial that the Government support and consult with the sector “at every step of the way,” communicating clearly with early childhood teachers and directors about access to rapid-antigen tests and any potential mandate for booster shots.


“Confusing and inconsistent communication from government is adding to the anxiety many early childhood teachers and directors are experiencing,” IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Acting Secretary Pam Smith said in closing.