COVID-19 Updates

Advice from the department can be found here.


Update 22 November 2022

Federation is very concerned by the recent rise in cases of COVID-19 in NSW, amidst a backdrop of almost no public health restrictions in either the community or schools.

Once the mandatory isolation periods were removed, Federation has continued to seek on behalf of members additional measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools.

Federation advises members to do the following to minimise the risk to themselves, their colleagues and their loved ones:

  • if unwell to seek a PCR test where possible in order to be linked into support from NSW Health especially for those who are immune-compromised
  • if COVID-positive to take at least 5 days of sick leave, and more if still unwell
  • wear a mask indoors
  • minimise indoor gathering as much as possible
  • contact the Department’s Asset Management Unit if there are concerns about adequate ventilation in your workplace  

The Department has confirmed that additional special sick leave is available on a case-by-case basis.

Members are encouraged to contact Federation for further advice and support if they have specific questions about COVID-19.

Additionally, Australian Unions and the ACTU Centre for Health and Safety have developed a range of fact sheets for all workers which are available here.


Update 18 July 2022

Over the past fortnight, Federation has vigorously pursued risk mitigation measures with senior officials of the Department to ensure our members’ health and safety at work is a paramount consideration as we enter Term 3 in a context of a forecast peak in COVID-19 cases in the community over the coming weeks.

Significant work has been undertaken by Federation in relation to the proposed vaccination policy, Term 3 COVID-19 settings for schools and members’ working conditions including leave provisions. Details can be found here.


Update 29 June 2022

Federation’s response in relation to the Department’s proposed new Term 3 settings can be found here: COVID-19 advice to members – Schools

As indicated in various media reports, the Federation has requested from the Department a copy of the independent risk assessment and the relevant material it was based on. Federation is currently working through the formal consultation process with the Department and will be in a position to provide formal feedback once that risk assessment and health advice etc has been provided to the union.

For Federation the focus throughout the pandemic has always been on prioritising the health and safety of teachers and students, and advocating for settings that are underpinned by expert health advice and WHS risk assessments, and that will continue to be the case.


Update 24 May 2022

The Department has updated its advice to casuals for Term 2, specifically in relation to cancellations. https://education.nsw.gov.au/inside-the-department/covid-19/principal-toolkits/supporting-staff/casual-staff


Update 17 May 2022

Federation intervention has resulted in the Department finally publishing clear information for staff that contract COVID. Principals were sent a COVID Situational Report this week and were requested to share this factsheet with their staff that can be printed out and placed in the staffroom for ease of reference. Federation’s advice to members published previously can be found here: COVID-19 advice to members – Schools | NSW Teachers Federation (www.nswtf.org.au)


Update 13 May 2022

For the most up to date advice on COVID matters including leave arrangements and Guidelines for Backfilling due to COVID absences, please see COVID-19 advice to members – Schools 


Update 9 May 2022

Federation’s advice for non-school based members in relation to Term 2 school operations can be found here: COVID-19 advice to members – Non-School Based


Update 2 May 2022

Federation’s advice for members in relation to Term 2 school operations can be found here: COVID-19 advice to members – Schools


Update 28 April 2022

FAQs have been updated to reflect Federation’s advice in relation to the Premier’s April 20 announcements regarding isolation requirements for household close contacts and vaccination mandates:

Update 22 April 2022

Federation is currently seeking information from the Department and TAFE about the implications of the NSW Premier’s announcement this week regarding changes to isolation and vaccination requirements.

As of 22 April 2022, the advice that we can provide to members can be found at the following links:


Update 25 February

Media


Update 24 February

We are still living in the middle of a pandemic – there were 8500 cases in our community today – so we have a long way to go before we can say we are out of this.

It therefore would have made sense to keep some of the restrictions in place and adopt a graduated approach to lifting restrictions in schools.

Our schools are complex places, you can’t maintain social distancing in a classroom, you can’t practise social distancing in a corridor.

Federation can’t understand why the Government wouldn’t take a more gradual approach in lifting the restrictions in schools. It makes sense to keep the restrictions in place for a little bit longer and assess as required.

The risk mitigation strategies in place have been working. We have always said that in the context of a pandemic you can never overcompensate in the implementation of risk mitigation strategies because the safety of our students and staff must come first.

The rapid antigen tests have been working. They have been detecting and preventing staff and students who have been infected from going on site. The masks are working in terms of stopping the spread of the infection. Why lift the restrictions in such a way? There is no rush in this. A cautious approach would have been far better.

Media


Update 24 January

The NSW Teachers Federation will closely monitor the effectiveness of Covid risk mitigation measures as thousands of teachers and students return to the classroom.

Click here to read more.

Media


Update 21 January

“Regrettably, there will be a lot of disruptions with the commencement of the school year 2022. There is no avoiding it. The modelling and experiences from overseas tells us that there is likely to be high levels of infection in our schools and, as a result, high levels of absenteeism, which may render schools non-operational,” said NSW Teachers Federation President, Angelo Gavrielatos.

“What we have been insisting on in our discussions with senior officials is the bolstering of all risk mitigation strategies available to us. These strategies need to be implemented in a way that will minimise the risks that are inherent with this Omicron strain of the virus.

“One of those risk mitigation strategies is the use of rapid antigen testing. We have recommended that they be used as a “surveillance” approach, where both teachers and students are tested twice a week.

“While rapid antigen tests are an important line of defence, we need to ensure that masks and mask-wearing requirements are such that they maximise protection in our schools. The government must also act further on improving ventilation and air quality to ensure schools are as safe as possible.

“Ultimately, health and safety must come first. The risk mitigation strategies must be upgraded to a level that offers the best protection for staff, students and our school communities.”


Summer Break Media Updates

‘Clash of two crises’: fears for NSW schools as Covid pandemic and ongoing teacher shortages collide (18 Jan)

Teachers union warns crippling staff shortages could derail return-to-school plan (17 Jan)

States vow no delay in return to school (13 Jan)

Premier ‘incredibly confident’ kids will be in class on the first day of term (5 Jan)

Teachers seek urgent talks with NSW government on school safety amid Omicron surge (4 Jan)


Update 14 January

Last week Federation acted proactively in seeking formal meetings with senior officials of the NSW Department of Education (DoE) to review and accordingly seek the implementation of enhanced risk mitigation strategies to ensure the safest possible conditions for the return to schools.

Further meetings are scheduled between senior officials of the Department and the Federation in the coming days.

Rest assured, the health and safety of members, students and our school communities at large, remains at the forefront of our deliberations with the DoE and governments. 

Read More


Update 24 November

Advice on RAHT testing and contact tracing please see: COVID-19 advice to members – Schools