No. 02-22, 11 February 2022 | Download PDF
TO: QTU MEMBERS
Return to face-to-face schooling
We hope that the return of students and face-to-face teaching this week was a positive experience for our 48,000 members. The QTU supported the delayed return to school to avoid the peak of the COVID-19 Omicron wave and continues to advocate for healthy and safe working conditions for our members.
COVID-19 measures in schools
The QTU has followed the advice of the Chief Health Officer (CHO) throughout the pandemic, however we continue to seek further clarification around a number of matters, including the wearing of masks by students when seated. This issue was also considered in detail by QTU Executive at a meeting this week, and several workplaces and branch meetings have carried motions expressing concerns about this and other COVID-19 work health and safety (WHS) issues.
This week, QTU officers, along with representatives from other unions, attended the DoE Peak Joint Consultative Committee Extraordinary Meeting - Heath Safety and Wellbeing, and formally raised concerns about the control measures contained in the return to school plan and risk register. These allow students to remove their masks while seated, as part of the broader set of health and safety controls the department has implemented to manage the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools.
While these controls are currently in line with the CHO direction, the QTU, Together Queensland (TQ) and the United Workers Union (UWU) have asked the DoE to seek specific advice from QHealth and the CHO about the application of the “four hour close-contact” definition in school workplaces (many special school and primary teachers will spend more than four hours with a discrete group of students), mask wearing, and appropriate PPE and risk-management for students who are ill in sick bay, awaiting parental pick-up.
Once this advice is received, the QTU will meet with the department to discuss its updated risk register.
The QTU has reinforced the need for unambiguous advice to be provided to school leaders. When it comes to health and safety messages, it is not acceptable for a centrally developed and negotiated position to be modified or reinterpreted at a regional or sub-regional level.
Student absence survey
The QTU has been consulted about the collection of data on student absences, the distribution of rapid antigen tests (RATs), and the recording of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in schools. The department has now advised that OneSchool records will be used, and the student absence survey will cease. If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a school or a RAT had been distributed, schools need to complete the survey relating to this. While the proposal appears very streamlined and simple, it is important to protect the privacy of the student or employee who has contracted the virus. The department has previously issued specific advice about the importance of confidentiality in regard to a person’s private medical or health status. The data collected via OneSchool and the survey will be used by the department to support workforce planning and schools.
If you engage with the QTU via social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) you may have noticed some changes. These changes have been put in place to transition to a relaunch of the QTU’s presence on these platforms on Sunday this week. One of the changes that has been adopted by QTU Executive is to turn off comments on our page. This decision has been made to ensure a safe and respectful place for all our members. The QTU’s statement of safety and respect is in place to ensure members engaging with the QTU are free from all forms of harassment, including at meetings, training, in our communications and online.
The removal of comments provides this safe space. It does not prevent members from communicating with the QTU.
As a member-focused organisation, the QTU provides multiple ways for members to communicate with its Officers, employees, and Executive. These methods include communication via the website, email, the Queensland Teachers Assist Desk (QTAD), and written correspondence.
Members can also engage in the Union’s democratic structures through workplace and branch meetings. Each branch has two Area Council representatives and a State Council representative, who are elected every three years to ensure the views of members in workplaces inform and shape the decisions of the QTU.
Following the relaunch of the Union’s social media on Sunday, members will continue to have access to information and advice via Facebook, celebrate with the QTU via Instagram, and follow the Union on Twitter, in what is anticipated to be a safe space for all members.
Queensland Teachers’ Journal – first edition of 2022 published today
The first edition of the 2022 Journal has been published and will be mailed to members next week.
This edition features articles on the current status of the enterprise bargaining (EB) agreements, the new P-12 Curriculum and Reporting Framework, and advertisements for vacant Union committee positions.
In particular, nominations are hereby called for the following positions:
Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) K-10 Curriculum and Assessment Committee
One (1) QTU representative on the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) K-10 Curriculum and Assessment Committee for the three (3) year term commencing May Council 2022 or other such term as determined by Council/Conference. The Committee will meet at least four (4) times a year in Brisbane to consider the ongoing implementation of the K-10 curriculum in Queensland.
Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) Senior Secondary Curriculum, Assessment and Certification Committee
One (1) QTU representative on the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) Senior Secondary Curriculum, Assessment and Certification Committee for the three (3) year term commencing at May Council 2022 or other such term as determined by Council/Conference. The Committee will meet at least four (4) times a year in Brisbane to consider the ongoing implementation of the 7-12 curriculum in Queensland.
If you wish to nominate for the positions mentioned above, please read the Journal supplement for more nomination information.
Authorised by Kate Ruttiman, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street, Milton, QLD, Australia, 4064