COVID-19 virus

INFORMATION REGARDING COVID-19/CORONAVIRUS 

Update 13 July 2020

NSW Health are urging anyone who visited the Crossroads Hotel, Casula on the evening of Friday 3 July to immediately self-isolate, come forward for testing and monitor for symptoms. Find you nearest clinic here: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/clinics.aspx

For more information visit: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/default.aspx

Update 15 June 2020

Free Flu vaccine for all public school teachers

In response to member representations, Federation pursued with the Department access to free flu vaccinations, where they were not already available, and teachers wished to take up the offer.

Federation is pleased to advise that this positive outcome was communicated to all teachers on Friday, 12 June.

Deputy Secretary, People and System Performance wrote to Federation stating: “Thank you for your correspondence to the Secretary of 8 May, 2020, regarding influenza vaccinations for school staff … As such, I am pleased to inform you that the Department will be providing all permanent and temporary staff with the opportunity to seek reimbursement for the cost of the influenza vaccine where they are not eligible for free vaccination.”

Federation urges all members who wish to participate in this program, do so before June 30 and seek reimbursement for the cost of the flu vaccine.


Update 20 May 2020

COVID-19 – Coronavirus advice for Federation members in schools No.3


Update 18 May 2020

Federation members have done a phenomenal job of adapting how they deliver lessons during COVID-19 pandemic.

You have turned yourselves inside out and gone over and above the call of duty, to provide some level of educational continuity to all your students.

From Monday, we enter a new phase and we acknowledge and recognise that this will bring further uncertainty and concerns.

Members must continue to follow the advice issued to schools regarding physical distancing, promoting and encouraging good hygiene practices for all and ensuring that the enhanced cleaning measures are being implemented in your workplaces.

We recognise the challenges facing members as a result of the changing operating models and we are pursuing these matters with the department including monitoring and reviewing workload, assessment and reporting requirements and ensuring that the enhanced cleaning measures committed to by the department are being implemented in your workplaces.

In all of our actions and deliberations we have been motivated by one thing; ensuring as best we can to protect the health and safety of students, teachers and principals; all members of our school communities.

Advice - AHPPC guidelines NSW schools


Update 06 May 2020

Email correspondence from the Department to principals about staff arrangements from 11 May caused considerable confusion and concern this morning.

Arising from representations, the following clarification has been provided by the Department.

“Further to the advice I provided to Principals and staff last night as it relates to the return of the workforce from May 11 2020, the Department continues to support the implementation of flexible workplace rosters, in line with the staggered return of students, to enable both on and off campus learning continuity.

In this next phase of return to on campus learning, and until further notice, we must continue to practise distancing and as such staff who are not required to be on site can be supported by continuing flexible off site arrangements to undertake their duties.

I trust this information assists with the timetables and rosters that you have worked so diligently to establish for commencement on May 11 2020.”


 

Update 25 April 2020

The Premier’s student-return-to-school model introduces a profound inequity in HSC preparation. 

Click here to read more from the Sydney Morning Herald.


Update: 22 April 2020

Since early March, Federation has been pursuing with the Department access for casual and temporary teachers to both short and long-term employment to ensure the impact to your livelihoods is minimised.

Following the email sent to members yesterday a special update has now been sent to all school based casual and temporary members.

The package announced yesterday includes:

• a minimum guaranteed weekly engagement for eligible casual teachers
• engaging eligible casual teachers for three days in the first two weeks of term 2 to induct them into remote learning methods
• extending temporary engagements that were due to expire at the end of term 1 into term 2.


Update: 22 April 2020

Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos spoke this morning on Nine's The Today Show in response to yesterday’s announcement from the premier. What we got fails to appreciate, let alone comprehend, the massive organisational and timetabling challenges it presents for our schools”.

Click here to view video.

Angelo Gavrielatos reported to the Sydney Morning Herald that the government's approach "fails to comprehend the massive organisational and timetabling demands it places on schools".


Update: 21 April 2020

An email was sent at approximately 11am to members with further update on the COVID-19 crisis.

The Premier’s return to school model fails to comprehend the massive organisational and timetabling demands it places on schools.
Angelo Gavrielatos

Throughout this crisis, in all of our actions and deliberations we have been motivated by one thing; ensuring as best we can to protect the health and safety of students, teachers and principals, all members of our school communities.

It is clear, at the right time, when the restrictions on gatherings and movement are eased, a staggered, orderly return to schools in a manner that satisfies Australian Health Protection Principal Committee advice and requirements on social distancing (including 1.5m physical distancing in open spaces and 4sqm per person in enclosed spaces), sanitation and environmental cleaning will be required.

It is also clear that whatever the model of student return looks like in these unprecedented times, it will bring with it serious logistical challenges. However, some models are potentially far more challenging, and of higher risk, if not impossible, to implement.

Federation proposed a staggered, orderly return initially with one year group in each secondary and primary settings respectively starting with year 12 and Kindergarten*. Kindy because our students just barely got to school when their journey at such a difficult transition in their young lives came to an abrupt halt.

Year 12 because of our deep concern for our students and the need for a meaningful, sustained commitment to their studies and support for them (and their parents) knowing that privileged communities with social, emotional and technological capital will do well in the high-tech, online environment.

When appropriate, we could then add one year per setting, for example year 6 and year 7, slowly padding out our schools over time, mindful of our primary concern; the health and safety of our students, teachers and principals; our entire school communities.

The Premier has announced a return to school model aimed at providing an opportunity for all students to physically attend school one day per week on a rostered rotation.

The only plausible argument advanced in relation to this model relates to the social emotional wellbeing of children, understanding that they could benefit from some physical contact (social distancing protocols applied) with their mates. We get that. We know what that means as educators and as parents. However, that’s where it ends. Assessing this model logistically and on all other criteria offered by the Premier, it fails.

It fails:

  1. the educational criterion test, as it provides only a minimum of up to 3-4 hours of face-to-face “teaching“ to any student on site noting that distance learning systems are in place
  2. the health and safety-first test by exposing young people (even at 20-25 per cent of students) and a significantly larger proportion of school staff to possible cross-infection for this minimal level of face-to-face educational benefit on site. It also ignores that tens of thousands of students will be criss-crossing suburbs on public transport each morning and afternoon along with thousands of parents leaving their homes doing school drop-offs and pick-ups
  3. the parental test, as it does not free parents from any pressure by merely having one of their children dunked into school on an irregular pattern
  4. the economic capacity test, as this rostering system does not and cannot free parents to engage in work on a sustained basis. This, as with the “parental test” above, is complicated by the number of children in each household
  5. the school-organisation and teacher workload test, as it fails to comprehend the massive organisational and timetabling demands it places on schools and the compounding impact on teachers’ workload in delivering online and face-to-face teaching in addition to other responsibilities such lesson preparation, producing hard copy versions for students without the necessary technology, professional learning, etc. It is widely accepted that teachers worked at unprecedented levels in the last three weeks of term 1. This model will only add to this unmanageable and unsustainable workload.

The Premier’s announcement will not be well received. Noting the multitude of contradictions that remain unanswered with respect to the application of social distancing requirements in schools when compared with the general public, today’s announcement will be viewed with deep scepticism and resentment by teachers and principals, and it will contribute to the continued bewilderment of parents.

*(We are acutely aware of the fact that there are many different settings across our system where alternative approaches would need to be applied.)


Update: 18 April 2020

Teachers and principals continue to struggle under the weight of contradictory advice and information. Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos spoke this morning on Weekend Today about the concerns that continue to be raised by our members.


Update: 17 April 2020

Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos has written an opinion piece that has today been published by various news outlets. You can read it below.

Teachers and principals have done a phenomenal job of adapting how they deliver lessons during COVID-19 pandemic.

They turned themselves inside out, over and above the call of duty, to provide some level of educational continuity to all their students.

Regrettably, we've not been helped during this pandemic by contradictory commentary with respect to health advice.

We are told on one hand, that it's not safe for children to be in public playgrounds and shopping malls yet, apparently, it's okay for them to be in a school playground or in a school classroom.

We're told it's not safe for children to be looked after and cared for by grandparents, yet it's okay for them to be taught by the teachers many of whom may also be grandparents.

Whilst strict restrictions to gatherings and movement have been introduced for the general public, it is next to impossible to practice social distancing in our schools which range in size from 12 to 2,000 students, 2 to over 200 staff.

On April 27 our schools will not be closed, they will continue to operate as they operated at the end of term one - they will continue to operate in that fashion for the first few weeks of term 2.

When it is safe, as restrictions on movement and gatherings are eased, what will be required is a staged and orderly return to schools with a much smaller number of students and teachers initially on school sites in order to ensure that we can practice social distancing. As it becomes safer, and only then, student and staff numbers on school sites will increase.

In all of our actions and deliberations we have been motivated by one thing; ensuring as best we can to protect the health and safety of students, teachers and principals; all members of our school communities.

Our health and safety must come first.

Angelo Gavrielatos, President


Update: 15 April 2020

Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos spoke to the media today in response to recent comments made by the Prime Minister.

Watch Angelo's interiew with Sky News here.


Update: 9 April 2020

An email has been sent to Federation members with information regarding COVID-19. 

If you have not been receiving emails from Federation make sure your contact details are up to date. For information or advice specific to your circumstances, contact Federation on 1300 654 369 or mail@nswtf.org.au.

Please note, Federation Representatives MUST register directly with Federation. Please email organisers@nswtf.org.au, telephone 02 9217 2199 or your regional Federation office as soon as possible if you are yet to notify us. The deadline for advising the Federation has been extended to the end of Week 1 of Term 2 (Friday 1 May 2020).


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.

Read more >>


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 mail@nswtf.org.au.

 

 

 


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.

Media release: Normal school operations must end to put the health and safety of students and staff first


Update: 23 March 2020

Media release: Teachers and principals are not dispensable


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:

- sanitation
- 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 healthandsafety@det.nsw.edu.au

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.

Click here to read the latest advice from the NSW Chief Health Officer regarding school closures.

Federation will continue to provide advice to members as the situation develops.


Update: 13 March 2020

We must all act in accordance with advice from the NSW Department of Health and the Department of Education

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.


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