Federation wishes you and your family all the best for 2022, although regrettably this is not the start to the new year anyone had hoped for.
At the very time when you needed to switch off to recharge your batteries, putting some distance between yourself and work-related matters, this third wave of COVID is causing us all considerable concern.
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.
The Federation has pursued matters relating to:
i) Vaccination – in particular the need for governments to deal expeditiously and effectively with matters relating to the problems that have emerged during the vaccination rollouts for five to eleven year old children; the stalled rollout of vaccinations for twelve to fifteen year olds; and timely access to boosters for all teachers;
ii) Rapid Antigen Tests – in particular the development of the most effective regimen to offer a further line of defence in the mitigation of risk;
iii) Ventilation and air quality and the need to implement improvements in measures previously announced;
iv) Masks and requirements for their use to ensure maximum safety.
There are of course other risk mitigation strategies related to the organisation of schools such as cohorting and restricting access of visitors etc. that are also the subject of discussions.
Further, Federation is pursuing the development of effective plans to deal with inevitable absenteeism due to infection rates, noting the experience of the UK and the USA where return to schools was either delayed or schools have effectively become non-operational. Federation is also pursuing enhancements in leave provisions for all teachers, including those employed on a casual basis.
Noting the dramatic increase in workload experienced by schools impacted by COVID cases last year, Federation is also pursuing measures aimed at alleviating pressures placed on 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.