TAFE lessons halted; teachers to prepare for new delivery modes

TAFE NSW has suspended training and educational delivery from Monday, 30 March, until the start of term 2 in response to the threat of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Federation Deputy Secretary (Post Schools) Maxine Sharkey said the union had been advocating for this for some time, for the sake of staff and student safety.

There are exceptions to the hiatus: critical skills areas, such as aged care and enrolled nursing, where students are due to complete practical delivery of training before the end of term 1; and TAFE Digital courses.

While classes are paused, TAFE teachers are instead required to use their time (as per their programmed work pattern) to prepare resources for “blended and connected delivery” from 27 April, so students can maintain their learning.

“This will not be online teaching; TAFE teachers are not professional digital teachers,” Ms Sharkey said. “It will be emergency-response teaching.”

Ms Sharkey said that with fewer people on TAFE campuses, teachers would find it easier to maintain social distancing. “While you may not end up working in your regular space, there will be empty classrooms to spread into. There will be no more hot desking.”

“TAFE assures us that everyone will have access to hand sanitiser, and alcohol wipes to clean surfaces like keyboards.”

Ms Sharkey said teachers with health concerns could negotiate with their line manager about working from home.

Normal school operations must end

For the sake of the health and safety of students and teachers in schools, Federation has been also been campaigning the transition to an emergency mode of school operations.

The union proposes that from 30 March schools must be declared pupil free for all students except the children of essential frontline services workers who are unable to care for their children and vulnerable children.

Teachers now not rostered on minimal supervision are to work from home providing educational continuity as far as is practicable for students online during term time.

Kerri Carr is a staff writer