No. 21-21, 2 August 2021 | DOWNLOAD PDF
TO: QTU MEMBERS
South East Queensland lockdown extended
This morning, the Chief Health Officer (CHO) extended the lockdown in the south east corner of Queensland until 4pm on Sunday 8 August.
This means that the remote learning being planned today will extend until at least Friday this week for those students in the South East/Greater Brisbane area.
The QTU will be writing to Dr Jeanette Young again requesting that teachers are categorised as frontline workers and given priority for vaccinations, should they wish to have one.
Attendance at school
Over the weekend, the QTU asked the government reconsider the need for all staff to be at school, given the impact that this movement across the south east corner may have on member wellbeing. The CHO has advised that she wants people to restrict their movements as much as possible and her preference is to minimise the number of people in workplaces.
Consequently, the government has agreed that schools in the south east corner will move to minimum staff attendance from Wednesday this week.
The number of staff required will be prescribed by the number of children of essential workers who are within the school. The CHO has requested that these students only be supervised in small groups (5-10 students).
Members who believe it is safer for them to work from school rather than their place of residence should advise the relevant school leader so this can be factored into their planning. If a member is unable to work from home due to the nature of their work etc, the usual leave arrangements will be made available.
We understand that moving to minimum staff attendance is a significant workload impost on school leaders, who are having to manage appropriate supervision arrangements etc. However, this strain of the virus is different to the one that prompted previous lockdowns, and the response therefore needs to be different. School leaders who need support in implementing this change will be able to access regional office staff.
If you are a vulnerable person, live with a vulnerable person or are subject to another QHealth direction, you should advise your school of this as soon as possible to ensure that this can be built into any staff attendance models that are being developed.
As per the advice during the 2020 lockdown, pregnant employees should contact their treating doctor for an assessment of their vulnerability, and provide this advice to their school.
QTU advice and guidance on how to avoid the pitfalls when teaching from home is available to members on the QTU website.
Members are reminded that if they feel unwell they should follow the advice of the CHO, get tested and await further advice from QHealth.
Mask wearing in schools
Over the weekend, the QTU raised the provision of masks and the workplace health and safety requirement to ensure that they are a proper fit. The department will work with the QTU over the coming days to ensure the appropriate provision of masks to schools and that members are aware how to fit them to maximise their effectiveness.
The department is currently working on prioritising the supply of masks to high schools and special schools in the first instance (where it is mandatory for everyone to be wearing a mask - year 7 and above), and then to primary schools.
The requirement to wear masks extends to all teachers (regardless of sector) and to students in years 7-12 within the 11 local government authorities (LGAs) currently in lockdown.
Provision of learning for students in lockdown outside the 11 LGAs
Schools are not required to provide remote learning to those students who live outside the 11 LGAs but who are currently in lockdown having travelled from one of the impacted areas. Schools however are required to provide these students with the normal support they would access if they were absent (i.e. not full remote learning).
The QCAA will contact schools today outlining a range of support available to assist schools during the lockdown.
At this stage, QHealth has only declared three schools as closed for 14 days with all attendees and family members in self-quarantine. These are Indooroopilly SHS, Ironside SS and Brisbane Grammar School.
The CHO is urging all of these people to follow the self-quarantine rules (i.e. not leaving their homes for any reason other than to get tested or to seek medical treatment).
QTU members have raised concerns with TRACER regarding its advice, which indicates that schools in the 11 LGAs need to contact the supply teachers if they need them to attend the booking, even where a confirmed booking has been made. We have advised them that the Director General’s advice is clear: where supply teacher bookings have been confirmed, these arrangements should continue and that the contradictory advice from TRACER is adding workload for school leaders. We have requested that TRACER ensures that its messaging to schools is consistent with the DG’s expectations.
Authorised by Kate Ruttiman, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street, Milton, QLD, Australia, 4064