No. 10-21, 30 March 2021 | DOWNLOAD PDF
TO: QTU MEMBERS
Updated advice to schools regarding Greater Brisbane lockdown
The priority of the Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU) is the health and safety of our members. To this end, we have attempted to provide members with clear, timely and concise advice.
The advice provided to members yesterday, in relation to the need to self-isolate if you had been in the Greater Brisbane area since 20 March 2021, was confirmed by the department before it was distributed.
The QTU welcomed the advice from the Chief Health Officer (CHO) that members should follow this course of action in order to minimise the potential of the virus spreading beyond the Greater Brisbane area.
The Department of Education (DoE) has since sought clarification from the CHO about this advice. Consequently, the advice changed overnight to clarify that all members can attend school, regardless of where they live or whether they have been in the Greater Brisbane area.
The QTU has raised concerns about the potential impact this latest decision will have on members reputational, physical and psychological safety. The QTU encourages members who are concerned for their wellbeing to raise this issue with their school leader and contact the QTU via the Queensland Teachers’ Assist Desk (QTAD) and/or their Organiser.
The issue of the delayed communication from the department to schools yesterday was also raised this morning. In the absence of clear and timely communication from the department, school leaders were left to deal with the uncertainty of how to manage the safety and wellbeing of students and staff during the pending lockdown.
All school staff are essential workers
The revised advice from the CHO is that all school staff across the state can attend their school during the lockdown period.
This includes those members (and students) who have visited the Greater Brisbane area since 20 March 2021, subject to two conditions:
- they are well
- they have not been to one of the listed venues during the times indicated on the Queensland Health website.
Those members who have been in Greater Brisbane and may have attended one of the venues listed here as part of the contact tracing processes, should get tested and follow health advice.
The QTU has raised the issue of accelerated access to the COVID-19 vaccine for members and calls on both the state and federal governments to review their decisions regarding whether teachers and school leaders should be in the priority category.
Schools outside the Greater Brisbane area remain open until the end of term
The conditions that were in place in these schools prior to the Greater Brisbane lockdown still apply.
In accordance with the revised advice, members can travel into or out of the lockdown areas for work.
Who can go to school?
According to the CHO, all members, unless they are vulnerable or live with a vulnerable person, can attend work.
However, they should only do this if they feel well. If you feel unwell, you should stay at home and get tested.
Children of essential workers in Greater Brisbane can attend school for supervision purposes only. The directive relating to students who present to school as unwell remains in place.
Requirement to wear masks
The department has provided advice on mask wearing.
The QTU’s position is clear – it is a member’s choice to wear a mask in any situation (including in class) where they believe it is necessary to feel safe at work. If you want to wear a mask, you should do so. If you need to remove your mask to issue an instruction, then you should ensure safe social distancing before doing so.
The directive to wear masks and to carry a mask with you applies state-wide, however people who are attending an educational institution or teaching are exempt from this.
While we appreciate that the department’s advice is to consult with your school leader about wearing a face mask at school, and that wearing masks in classrooms is unnecessary, the QTU believes that member safety is paramount, and you should be able to exercise your professional and personal discretion about the appropriateness of wearing a mask at school.
Supply and temporary teachers and the Greater Brisbane lockdown
The QTU recognises that the lockdown impacts especially hard on those who do not enjoy job security, including our supply and temporary teacher members. In addition to the advocacy for all school-based members, the QTU this week raised questions with the DoE specific to supply and temporary teacher members regarding the impact of the Greater Brisbane lockdown on employment.
The department has advised that where pre-arranged teacher and teacher-aide casual bookings have been confirmed, schools are required to honour these arrangements, to ensure continuity and supervision for children of essential workers.
Implications for school holidays
The Premier has advised that a decision about the Greater Brisbane lockdown will be made on Wednesday evening. With the school holidays commencing on Thursday 1 April, the QTU has asked the department to provide clear, timely advice to members regarding its expectations and obligations over the holidays. The QTU will update members as the impact on school holidays becomes clear.
Updates will continue
The QTU will continue to advise members as the situation develops.
Members who are concerned for their physical, psychological or reputational safety should speak with their school leader and contact the QTU.
We will also update the COVID-19 information on the QTU website and social media as the situation changes.
Authorised by Kate Ruttiman, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street, Milton, QLD, Australia, 4064