INFORMATION REGARDING COVID-19/CORONAVIRUS
Update: 8 April 2020
Governments must improve COVID-19 communications to CALD communities
Federation has joined with several community groups appealing for governments to effectively report COVID-19 directives to people with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.
“Information is not reaching into many CALD communities in a way that actively engages the communities and individuals to enable them to fully understand what is required of them now and into the coming weeks of the COVID-19 response nationally,” letters sent to federal, state and territory health ministers state.
“It is particularly clear that messages about behaviour change and social isolation are not getting through to CALD communities, leaving them vulnerable as community transmission of the virus begins to climb,” noted Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria chairperson Eddie Micallef, Settlement Service International chief executive officer Violet Roumeliotis, Migration Institute of Australia chair John Hourigan, National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ Council executive officer Russell Anderson, HOST International chief executive officer David Keegan and Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos.
Update: 4 April 2020
Am I required to teach both face to face and online?
No. There is “one unit” of work that is provided to the students who attend their local school and also those at home. That is, what is provided to students at home is duplicated under the minimal supervision arrangements at schools.
For information or advice specific to your school's circumstances, contact Federation on 1300 654 369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update: 2 April 2020
Do I need to sign a contract or other such documentation around the work I will undertake during flexible work arrangements?
No. There is no requirement for any teacher to sign such documents and they cannot be a requirement for working from home. Teachers are professionals and must be given the trust and respect to operate accordingly. Any such documents must be withdrawn.
Please contact your Federation Organiser if this is occurring in your workplace.
Teachers can, however, complete and sign the Alternate Workplace Environmental Checklist provided by Work Health and Safety.
Update: 1 April 2020
What should casual teachers do if booked work has been cancelled this term?
If you are a casual teacher who has had bookings cancelled and not reinstated, please call us. We will pursue this directly with the employer.
Similarly, if you are a temporary teacher who has had your engagement shortened or terminated, please contact Federation – we will pursue this directly with the employer.
Federation has successfully secured the reinstatement of casual and temporary employment for members.
Update: 31 March 2020
Should casual teachers continue to be engaged by schools?
The answer is YES! Following Federation representations, the Department of Education has said casual teachers will continue to be engaged to support the operations of schools as they normally would.
Principals have been advised that casual teachers will continue to replace colleagues on sick, FACS, special and carers leave, etc. Casual teachers can also undertake flexible working arrangements if required.
If any days you had been booked for the remainder of the term have been cancelled, you should contact the school that booked you so that you can be rebooked. Principals have been given clear advice to undertake this action.
Update: 30 March 2020
Federation has produced updated advice for members in relation to COVID-19.
Update: 27 March 2020
Federation continues to pursue an orderly transition to an emergency mode of school operation where rostered minimum supervision would be provided to support essential frontline service workers, who are unable to care for their children, and vulnerable students with systems in place to provide maximum health protection for all present on sites.
Staff not rostered on minimal supervision, work from home providing educational continuity as far as is practicable for students online.
Noting that the latest school attendance figures show a statewide average of less than 10 per cent and as low as 3 to 5 per cent in many areas, we have effectively commenced that transition.
The Department has “made it clear that our schools should create as much flexibility as possible by creating workable rosters for their staff at a time in which there is only a small number of students on site in our schools”, and that schools should “come up with appropriate rosters for your setting to allow some staff to work from home.
“The arrangements for staff in high-risk categories working from home is to continue unaltered.”
The Department has made it clear that “anyone who's in a high-risk category, including staff who are pregnant, should be working from home now. No questions about that.”
Federation continues to advocate on behalf of temporary and casual teachers who could be severely affected by this crisis in the event of widespread and prolonged disruption.
As a result of these efforts, the Secretary has issued advice to principals stating: “If there is a staff member who is sick at home and is not able to work, then [principals] should employ casuals to replace that person … to support the teaching and learning effort that has been driven out of the school at the moment. And similarly with temps as well.”
We realise these are challenging times. You can rest assured that Federation will continue advance the interest of all members. Together will get through this crisis. Please stay safe.
Update: 25 March 2020
Federation Executive met this morning at 9 am and unanimously resolved that normal school operations must end to put the health and safety of students and staff first.
It is now essential that an immediate transition to an emergency mode of school operation be put in place with minimum staffing (to support essential frontline services workers who are unable to care for their children during this crisis) and necessary systems to provide maximum health protection for all present on sites.
Staff not rostered on minimal supervision are to work from home providing educational continuity as far as is practicable for students online during term time. The arrangements for staff in high-risk categories working from home are to continue unaltered.
To facilitate this transition, from the week beginning 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.
We note that normal operations of TAFE have been suspended from 30 March until 27 April. An urgent meeting has been sought with the NSW Premier.
Update: 23 March 2020
Update: 23 March 2020
Federation has called an emergency meeting of our state executive at 12pm. A meeting has been secured with the Minister at 4pm today.
Update: 23 March 2020
Teachers have been thrust onto the frontline of this crisis.
The Premier has failed to provide any reassurance for our public school teachers and principals.
The Premier has failed to issue clear and unequivocal advice in relation to school closures. What we have now is a recipe for chaos.
Encouraging parents and caregivers to choose whether their children attend school or not fails to offer any assurances or provide any certainty. The Premier has created a moral dilemma for parents.
If clarity was given then plans could be made to transition our schools for the provision of minimal supervision for the children of essential services workers.
Federation continues to seek an urgent meeting with the Minister.
Update: 23 March 2020
Teachers and principals are not dispensable. An urgent meeting is being sought with the NSW Minister.
Answers are needed.
As of midday yesterday, plans were being enacted to wind back school operations. Described as the UK model, schools were to remain open with appropriate levels of supervision for children of essential workers.
In the UK, schools are being kept as empty as possible. Flexible arrangements are in place for school staff to ensure effective minimum supervision and the further ongoing development of online educational material for students not at schools.
Last night the Prime Minister declared schools would remain open while shutting down all social gatherings because of the crisis.
These decisions are being made by people who have no idea how our schools function or what is happening inside them. The reasoning offered just doesn’t stack up.
We are told that social distancing protocols should be observed in all other places not affected by the shutdown. The social distancing protocol of 4m2 per person is impossible to implement in classrooms, corridors and most school playgrounds.
We are told children are low risk vectors for the virus at school but suddenly become high risk vectors in shopping centres and playgrounds also ignoring the fact the tens of thousands are travelling on trains and buses each morning and afternoon.
We are told there is concern about kids infecting grandparents but not teachers, many of whom are also grandparents? We are told there is concern for vulnerable, high risk groups but not teachers in this category.
The contradictions and hypocrisy must end.
Update: 20 March 2020
AEU to meet with Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan about COVID-19 concerns. Click here to read the full media release.
Update: 19 March 2020
Click here to read the AEU’s letter sent today to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the National Cabinet.
Update: 19 March 2020
Federation continues to engage on an hourly basis with the Department of Education on behalf of members.
We continue to pursue issues including, but not limited to, the following:
- WH&S matters including:
- social distancing
- urgent risk assessments for vulnerable settings such as SSPs
- leave entitlements and leave arrangements (special leave, sick leave, FACs leave etc) for all permanent, temporary and casual teachers
- matters specifically affecting casual teachers, day-to-day work and long-term arrangements
- working arrangements for teachers who have chronic illnesses, are immunocompromised or fall into high-risk categories. This includes pregnant staff
- addressing family circumstances of teachers who are also carers of those with chronic illnesses and immunocompromised
- day-to-day organisational matters in schools including staff/parent teacher/interschool/regional meetings, PL events etc
- workload matters including the provision of online materials and meeting needs of students who are isolated
- non-school based officer arrangements and external providers in schools
- maintenance of accreditation and associated matters such as extensions and completion of teacher qualifications.
Federation will provide a further update for members on Friday afternoon as the situation develops.
Update: 18 March 2020
Federation Senior Officers continue to be in discussions with the Department of Education and other stakeholders in response to this morning’s announcements made by the Prime Minister.
These are unprecedented times.
Due to a high volume of calls we know that wait times on our Professional Support services (phone and email) have been longer than usual. In response to this we have allocated additional resources to be able to speak and provide advice to as many members as possible.
We are listening to and reading all of your correspondence and will continue to advocate for appropriate support to be provided to members across a range of issues including Work Health and Safety, pay and leave arrangements for casual, temporary and permanent teachers in all circumstances in all public education settings.
Federation will continue to provide updates and advice to members.
Update: 18 March 2020
The Department of Education and Department of Health have issued advice to minimise cross-school contact, where possible, and limit visitors from outside the school community.
In response to this, a number of Association executives have made the decision to postpone Association meetings until later in the year. In consultation with Federation Representatives and school communities, Federation Officers have also made the decision to not physically attend meetings in workplaces to prevent exposing members to unnecessary contact and its inherent risk.
This decision was not made lightly. However, Federation Officers travel across multiple sites each day and interact in close contact with a large number of members in many schools. It was raised that this could pose a risk to members and school communities.
Federation Officers remain on duty throughout this time and continue to be available to support members in schools, Associations, and individuals remotely. Members wishing to discuss the practicalities of remote support should contact their Federation Organiser through normal procedures. Federation Workplace Committees may still call and hold a meeting in the usual way if they wish to — and an Organiser may join the meeting by phone or other means where possible.
Rest assured, the union remains committed to supporting Federation Representatives, and the broader membership, during this time.
Update: 17 March 2020
Federation has assessed the ability of all members in schools and TAFE workplaces to implement the social distancing measures as advised by the NSW Department of Health and the Department of Education.
It is now clear that the Government is not meeting its work, health and safety obligations to all staff and students.
Federation is demanding that if schools remain open, principals and teachers must be given clear advice on what they are to do when the required health protocols cannot be implemented.
Federation continues to work to protect the safety and industrial rights of every member in every classroom.
Should you be unable to implement the NSW Department of Health advice necessary for the maintenance of a safe workplace, please make an immediate report to the WHS Incident and Injury Notification Hotline by calling 1800 811 523 or emailing email@example.com
For additional information, you can read the media release sent by Federation this morning.
Update: 16 March 2020
Federation remains in regular contact with the Department of Education. We continue to make representations on behalf of members. Concerns expressed are communicated with the Department of Health who are providing advice as necessary.
Federation will continue to provide advice to members as the situation develops.
Update: 13 March 2020
Federation’s Senior Officers have been in regular contact with the Department of Education over the past month regarding this issue and are continuing to monitor the situation.
In particular, we are working closely with the Department to ensure the health, employment and industrial needs and rights of all members (permanent, temporary and casual) in schools and TAFE are being met. A statement to this effect was posted on our social media sites on Friday, 6 March, following the temporary closure of Epping Boys High School.
The Department has confirmed that permanent, temporary and day-to-day casuals engaged/offered work during a school shut down period and/or directed to self-isolate will be paid for that period of closure.
The payment of casual workers is being addressed by all unions at a whole of Government level and Federation is keeping abreast of these developments. Federation continues to pursue concerns regarding day-to-day casuals, who may not have been engaged/offered work during a shutdown/self-isolation period, should the crisis escalate and affect employment opportunities.
Federation understands that this situation is particularly difficult for our teachers who do not have secure employment.
Federation continues to work with the Department on matters, including, but not limited to, the following:
• addressing rising racism in schools among, students, parents and broader community
• extending the census date for actual enrolments
• ensuring advice is provided in relevant community languages
• clarifying regional travel restrictions for non-school based members
• addressing the opportunism of private providers of professional learning and technology in this context
• pursuing individual teacher and school matters as they have arisen.
Federation notes that the Department has provided the union with the most up-to-date information, at times hourly, on processes the Department is undertaking in conjunction with NSW Health, including detailed reports of operational and system matters as they have developed.
Federation will continue to monitor developments and advise members as appropriate.
- Governments must improve COVID-19 communications to CALD communities
- Governments try to dishonour their obligations during pandemic
- TAFE is up to the task
- Normal school operations must end
- 24 hours: Federation in action
- Teachers and principals are not dispensable
- Advice for schools ‘conflicting, contradictory and impossible’
- Stay calm and informed of advice
- Schools update for coronavirus
- Media release: Normal school operations must end to put the health and safety of students and staff first (25 March)
- Media release: Teachers and principals are not dispensable (23 March)
- Media release: Coronavirus advice conflicting, contradictory and impossible (17 March)