QTU Members' Newsflash No. 15-20, 28 April 2020 | DOWNLOAD PDF
Term 2 – Learning at home continues
In this issue : Making the best of a difficult situation | Change to term 2 operating guidelines for Queensland state schools | Term 2 - the second half | Remote communities and biosecurity | Assessment and reporting | Arrangements for temporary and supply teachers | Teacher housing | Avoiding the pitfalls of learning at home | 2020 teacher transfer process| International Workers Memorial Day | Labour Day 2020
Making the best of a difficult situation
QTU members should be celebrated for their work in providing students with learning at home activities.
Despite pressure from some to abandon the Term 2 operating guidelines and some challenges with technology, students across the state had a successful start to Term 2.
At the end of last week, schools faced added pressure when the Prime Minister released amended Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advice in relation to schools. Once again, this information focused on the wellbeing of students and ignored staff. This announcement has added fuel to the debate about schools fully reopening to students, making QTU members feel invisible. You are not.
The alternative ways of learning are second to none. We will also not accept a call to transition all students back to school for economic reasons alone – schools must also be deemed safe for the adults that work in them.
The Queensland Government has set a clear path for school operations in the first five weeks of this term, and the Union is committed to working with the government as it decides the course of schooling from week six onwards.
The health and safety of members is of the utmost importance, and this must underpin any decision. Until then, the Term 2 operating guidelines remain in place and attendance is restricted to children of essential workers and those deemed as vulnerable. ..back to top
Changes to Term 2 Operating Guidelines for Queensland State Schools
After the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) provided advice to National Cabinet regarding social distancing in school, the department has amended the Term 2 2020 Operating Guidelines for Queensland State Schools.
Social distancing is still required for all adults and should be practiced wherever possible on school sites to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission in our workplaces. In particular, schools should ensure that all staff:
- can maintain appropriate social distancing in all staff rooms
- continue to conduct all staff meetings via teleconference or online.
It is unfortunate that many politicians and media commentators are continuing to urge parents to send their children to school, despite the fact that the amended guidelines have not changed the definition of which students are eligible to attend school and have their learning supervised.
As the Queensland Government considers options for the remainder of Term 2 beyond the current five weeks of remote learning, the QTU will ensure that the health, safety and wellbeing of teachers, school leaders, other school staff and students remain at the centre of these negotiations.
The QTU does not want remote learning to occur for any longer than is necessary to ensure our community is again safe from the COVID-19 pandemic and we can return to our normal ways of working. We will continue to support members through this challenging time...back to top
Term 2 – the second half
On Monday 13 April, the Queensland Premier announced that a decision on arrangements for schools in weeks 6-10 of Term 2 will be made by the department by mid-May for revised protocols for school operations.
The QTU will provide a position to the state government prior to the end of next week around issues to be considered for teachers and principals. This is the same process we followed prior to the government’s decision to move to pupil-free days at the end of last term, and over Easter regarding the first five weeks of Term 2.
Key considerations for the QTU will be:
- how to continue to ensure the health and safety of all students and staff in schools, considering current medical advice at a state and federal level which continues to highlight an increased risk for adults in school contexts
- how to protect vulnerable workers in schools, and the logistical issues these arrangements will cause for the return of classes
- priorities for return to school where a decision is taken not to extend attendance to all students in the first instance – staggered return begs the question who should go back first
- given the changed views of the National Cabinet on social distancing in schools and the advice of the Australian Health Protection Principals Committee, what new arrangements are required in schools regarding students and staff interactions?..back to top
Remote communities and biosecurity
Late last week, the Queensland Government released a biosecurity plan that has resulted in amended processes for members returning to communities after the Autumn holidays. Members have identified a series of issues that may arise due to these changed arrangements. The QTU is working closely with the department to address these issues. We continue to closely
Assessment and reporting
We have been negotiating with the department around guidelines to support schools in assessment and reporting for Semester 1, 2020. The guidelines will be released soon and will include two options. The decisions about which of these options to use should be made following consultation at the school level.
Further advice will be provided when the guidelines are released. ..back to top
Arrangements for temporary and supply teachers
The QTU continues to monitor the impact of the pandemic on temporary and supply teachers. While the Term 2 operating guidelines encourage schools to engage supply teachers at levels of at least 10 per cent so that they are familiar with the school’s remote learning procedures, members are reporting difficulty in securing work. Supply teacher payments for week 10 Term 1 should be in the pay of 6 May. The QTU will again meet with the department this week to discuss further support for supply and temporary teachers...back to top
As we know, our schools are not operating “business as usual”. This extends to teacher housing operations. Local accommodation committees (LACs) should be meeting. All decisions made by LACs will need to be made with the health, safety and wellbeing of tenants as the main considerations, along with attention to how to support social distancing. For example, if at all possible relocations within housing should be placed on hold. Should the LAC need to proceed, careful planning that takes into account social distancing and adequate hygiene practices should occur. Maximising occupancy at this point is not the priority. Creating space is. ..back to top
Avoiding the pitfalls of learning at home
The COVID-19 crisis has forced an enormous shift in the way teachers work, and it has all happened with very little notice. However, the crisis does not override the usual obligations of teachers. While teachers may feel they ought to be permitted to do “whatever it takes” to get through these difficulties, COVID-19 is not a defence, and the department will not accept it as a defence once the emergency is over. Most complaints are made in hindsight.
The QTU has developed a document highlighting some of the things we should be aware of in this environment of remote and online learning. It includes tips for virtual learning spaces, the use of social media and their relationship to the code of conduct. Members are encouraged to use this as a guide to help avoid issues that may arise in the learning from home environment...back to top
2020 teacher transfer process
The teacher transfer process opened on Monday 27 April. Emails have been sent to teachers eligible for a guaranteed transfer and to those teachers who may be interested in rural/remote service. Notwithstanding the fact that over 90 per cent of the guaranteed transfer applicants received their first geographic preference in 2019, the department is still recommending two geographic area preferences for AMP applicants and three for other applicants. Members are only required to submit one preference. The case managers will contact them if more than one is necessary. In 2020 guaranteed transfer applicants will be notified of their transfer on 17 September along with other transfer applicants. [updated 29 April 2020]back to top
International Workers Memorial Day
Every year, workers across the world unite on 28 April to remember those who died at work. More than 160 Australian workers died in their workplaces last year, and more than 50 Australians have died doing their job this year. As COVID-19 hits every workplace, it reminds us that health and safety is a critical duty. The Workers Memorial Day service was live-streamed by the Queensland Council of Unions from 10:45am. Members are encouraged to watch the video prepared by Queensland Unions and pause for a minutes’ silence to remember the dead, and to fight for the living...back to top
Labour Day 2020
Nothing will stop workers enjoying Labour Day in 2020. And while we can’t march or gather as we would normally do this weekend, there are still activities planned to celebrate the achievements of workers.
On Monday, why not put on your Union shirt, tune your radio to listen to a day of union songs, and share your photos with us for social media.
In the lead up to Labour Day, why not also record a 30 second video on the significance of Labour Day and send it to the QTU (firstname.lastname@example.org) for us to share on social media throughout the day. For more information go to www.labourday.org.au.
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