TAFE newsflash 23 March 2020
Continuation of classes in TAFE
The QTU has received a number of concerns from QTU TAFE Division members regarding the current policy on continuation of classes within TAFE. The concerns shared, in summary, are as follows.
- Given classroom sizes, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to practice social distancing as recommended by the government.
- Most TAFE Queensland students are not young people as in schools, with many in higher risk age groups, and therefore the generalities that apply to young people in school do not apply in TAFE or CQU.
- Some students will not be able to move to the online environment due to the level of study, the practical nature of the qualification and/or the proficiency of students with language or technology.
- The TAFE and CQU educator workforce is generally older than the population average, and many have high risk medical conditions.
- There is a shortage of hygiene materials such as hand sanitiser, gloves and wipes in some locations, which is contributing to educators’ sense of vulnerability in the current situation.
- Given that VET is practical education, it is extremely difficult to continue practical classes, exercises and assessments while maintaining the high levels of hygiene being advised.
- Some educators have caring responsibilities, like many people in the population, and they feel these are being compromised by continuing to attend work in the current conditions.
The QTU is bringing the concerns of members to the attention of TAFE Queensland corporate and is liaising with regions.
The QTU is also in discussions with Government Ministers regarding the resolutions of the QTU Executive communicated this morning. Executive resolved that:
- all schools be closed to students (including special schools) on Wednesday 25 March
- measures should be adopted to enable vulnerable employees to work from home effective Tuesday 24 March
- parents should be encouraged to keep students at home from Tuesday 24 March
- schools should be empowered to send students home and require them to stay home if they are displaying flu-like symptoms
- the Queensland Government must respond to the genuine health and safety concerns of QTU members in special schools and SEPs
- the Queensland Government should provide teachers with additional student-free days from the closure of schools until 3 April to enable them to prepare for term two, including developing resources to support student learning on alternative platforms, noting that these days may be worked from home
- the Queensland Government should provide advice and guidance to QTU members living and working in remote communities in relation to their ability to leave community, return to community and work in other locations; as well as issues of teacher travel during the autumn holidays
- the Queensland Government should provide certainty regarding the process of decision making for the commencement of term two, including timely consultation with the QTU
- the QTU expresses solidarity with members in the hospitality, transport, entertainment and other industries facing significant periods of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
QTU Executive will reconvene at 5pm today (Monday 23 March) to consider whether the agreed protocols sufficiently address members’ concerns.
If you have any concerns, please contact us at email@example.com rather than by phone, due to the high call volumes currently being experienced.
QTU TAFE Organiser
Authorised by Kate Ruttiman, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street, Milton, QLD, Australia, 4064