No. 22-21, 4 August 2021 | DOWNLOAD PDF
TO: QTU MEMBERS
Stay at home, work from home, stay well, stay informed
Following successful lobbying by the Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU) and on the advice of the Chief Health Officer (CHO), the majority of members in the 11 local government areas currently in lockdown should now be working from home, while a minimum number of staff should be rostered on to provide supervision for vulnerable children and the children of essential workers at school.
The Union knows that these arrangements have placed a significant workload impost on school leaders, who are also part of the working from home rotation and should not be expected to be in attendance at school for the entire lockdown. The CHO stated this morning that “if we don’t do something really, really, really special in Queensland, we’ll be extending the lockdown.” By supporting members to work from home rather than attend school, the department has taken one of these special steps; we encourage members to stay at home where they are able to do so.
The Union understands the need for people to stay connected during lockdown. However, we recommend that schools avoid any opportunity for groups to mingle. This means that meetings should not be held in person, even if all staff are wearing masks. Instead, schools should consider moving their meetings online, in accordance with department policy on acceptable platforms.
Attendance at school
The QTU is continuing to receive reports that children of parents who are not currently working are being dropped at school when they should be cared for by their parents. Similarly, those children whose parents are not essential workers and working at home should also be staying at home with their parents. If members are working from home, despite being classed as essential, they too should keep their children at home. We appreciate that this is a difficult time for parents, however we all need to do our part to minimise travel and keep everyone safe to have any chance of avoiding a longer lockdown.
At the QTU’s request, the Director-General has prepared some correspondence for school leaders to provide to parents, to ensure that they are aware of their obligations to minimise travel and abide by the public health directions.
Members are also reminded that if a child presents to school unwell, under the CHO directive they should be sent home and stay home until they are well. This directive has been in place for over a year to help in minimising the potential spread of the virus.
At this time, it is vital that the whole school community, including students, parents, teachers and school leaders and all other staff who work in schools, continue to prioritise their own health and those of vulnerable members of the community by staying at home whenever possible.
Under the new restrictions, members who are unable to wear a mask as the result of a medical exemption will be required to work from home or take leave.
The QTU has heard of isolated cases of education staff refusing to wear masks.
- Mask-refusers who do not have an exemption are in breach of the Public Health Direction which is a lawful instruction from their employer.
- Everyone has an obligation to keep themselves and their colleagues - and anyone else they come in contact with - as safe as possible. That includes wearing masks when directed to do so by the CHO.
The QTU has requested that the department provide clear face shields to those teachers teaching deaf students, and has also highlighted the challenges that our hearing-impaired members face in an environment where everyone has to wear masks. Members in this situation should seek medical advice if necessary and request to work from home, and if refused, contact the QTU for further advice.
Wellbeing while working at home
Working from home adds another layer of complexity that members who have not worked from home previously may find difficult to adjust to. The QTU has had a long-standing relationship with wellbeing coach, Thea O’Connor. Attached to this Newsflash is a module on the importance of structuring your work day when working from home. Thea has also provided a link to some free online tools designed to help parents and others caring for children adjust while working from home.
It is important that as well as being aware of how to avoid any pitfalls while working from home that we also take care of our wellbeing. We hope that some of the resources on Thea’s site will be helpful to members.
Frequently asked questions
The QTU has prepared a frequently updated set of FAQs, which available on our website. If members have further questions or require further assistance, please contact QTAD on 1300 11 7823 (QTAD), however, be advised that we are experiencing high call volumes and a large number of emails, so we would request your patience during this challenging time.
Updated health advice
Members should ensure that they check the Queensland Government website frequently for information about the lockdown, the location of testing centres, and updates about COVID hotspot locations.
If you or any member of your family is unwell, follow QHealth advice, get tested and isolate until you receive your test results.
Ekka show holiday
Many members have contacted us about the forthcoming Ekka show holiday.
The Queensland Government has postponed next week's Ekka public holiday for Brisbane and Scenic Rim residents. It will be rescheduled to form a long weekend later in the year when Parliament sits later this month.
Moreton Bay Council has also voted to move its show holiday to later this year. It is unclear at the moment whether other Councils will also move their show holidays dates. Members should monitor advice from all local governments with respect to these holidays.
Authorised by Kate Ruttiman, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street, Milton, QLD, Australia, 4064