The federal government is adamant that schools will remain open amid the Coronavirus crisis. However, teacher unions are now demanding that schools close early to protect staff who are on the frontline of our children’s education.
NSW Teachers Federation has demanded that school operations cease from Monday next week and that teachers and admin staff be permitted to work from home.
The union’s president, Angelo Gavrielatos, has said in a statement that schools should only have minimum staffing to support essential frontline services workers who cannot care for their children during the crisis, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Demand Schools Close
“Normal school operations must end to put the health and safety of students and staff first,” Mr Gavrielatos said.
“It is now essential that an immediate transition to an emergency mode of school operation be put in place with minimum staffing (to support essential frontline services workers who are unable to care for their children during this crisis) and necessary systems to provide maximum health protection for all present on school sites.
“Staff not rostered on minimal supervision are to work from home providing educational continuity as far as is practicable for students online during term time. The arrangements for staff in high-risk categories working from home continue unaltered.
“To facilitate this transition, from the week beginning 30 March schools must be declared pupil free for all students except the children of essential frontline services workers who are unable to care for their children and vulnerable children.”
The union is planning to meet tomorrow to consider further action if their demands are not met.
The Queensland teacher’s union is also unhappy with the government’s persistence of keeping school doors open.
Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates says keeping schools open is untenable in light of Victoria and the ACT shutting down their institutions earlier this week.
“We can’t accept that, if other state and territories, other jurisdictions, move to a new position that Queensland can’t adopt a similar strategy.”
A QTU spokesperson said the union would prefer not to go on strike and hope for an amicable solution because their members are “up against the wall”.
Officially Queensland schools remain open but parents can choose to keep their kids home.
The local NSW government has asked parents to keep their children at home, if they are able to. However schools are definitely still open and no student will be turned away.
As a response to this plea, the attendance at schools is dwindling and was down to less than 25 per cent this week.
We’ve personally decided to keep our kids at home and really feel for our teachers who do not have that choice. I hope that the local governments will take Union demands into consideration and allow the schools to open with a skeleton staff only.
Current Status Of Schools
The current status for schools across the country are as follows:
Victoria: Schools closed for school holidays on Tuesday this week. The schools are due to open on 13 April.
NSW: Schools are still open but parents are encouraged to keep their children at home if they are able to.
Queensland: Schools remain open and parents have the choice whether they wish to send their kids to school.
ACT: Schools are now pupil-free until the school holidays. However those parents who work and are not able to keep their children at home, are able to still send their kids to school.
Tasmania: Schools are still open but it is optional whether parents wish to send their kids to school
NT: Schools are still open but it is optional whether parents wish to send their kids to school
SA: Schools are still open but it is optional whether parents wish to send their kids to school
WA: Schools are still open but it is optional whether parents wish to send their kids to school
All states and territories are planning on re-opening in term 2, with a mixture of distance learning and at-school learning, for those parents who are unable to keep their children at home.
Do you think the government will listen to unions demanding that school close? Tell us in the comments below.