When our classrooms are just too hot
The AEU ACT policy on extreme temperatures states: The AEU believes that members have a right to decline to teach in situations where classroom temperatures are lower than 17 degrees Celsius or more than 30 degrees Celsius.
|AEU ACT Communcations & Research Officer delivers thermometers
to sub-branch president, Evie Kollas.
The grounds for AEU ACT policy are straightforward. Classrooms in which the temperature exceeds 30 degrees are not only highly unpleasant working environments, they can be dangerous and they are certainly not conducive to learning. The vast majority of office environments, including those of other ACT public servants, have air-conditioning or are otherwise designed to ensure reasonable temperatures. The fact that, as educators, we share our working space with dozens of young people makes appropriate cooling more important, not less.
Whenever physical conditions become distressing to students and intolerable to staff:
- Members should advise the Workplace Health & Safety representative (aka Occupational Health & Safety representative);
- The Workplace Health & Safety representative should immediately consult with the principal/manager of the site and verify the actual temperature of the location;
- The Workplace Health & Safety representative, with the support of the AEU Sub-Branch, should request appropriate action be taken to rectify the situation. This action may include implementing procedures for the relocation or cancellation of classes.
- AEU officers are ready and able to provide advice and support to help achieve a solution. Just call 62727900.
To be ready for extremely hot days, we encourage the following action:
- Have a thermometer in every classroom, gymnasium, hall, common area and office where extreme heat is likely to be a problem. If your school does not have enough thermometers, your AEU officers are here to help. Just call 62727900.
- Workplace Health & Safety representatives should meet with principals to develop or review contingency plans to manage work and students safely on days of extreme temperatures. The Education & Training has provided an Expected High Temperature Schools Preparation Checklist to aid in developing a contingency plan.
AEU ACT believes the ACT Government needs to invest to ensure that temperatures are always reasonable in all classrooms in the Territory. Classes should not have to be cancelled or relocated because of extreme temperatures. We believe there is overwhelming community support for our view. We also note that the ACT Government committed to investing $70 million in upgrading infrastructure in ACT schools prior to the last election and at this point only around $3 million of that money has been allocated.
- We have requested the department provide us an audit of ACT classrooms which indicates those that have air-conditioning and those that don't.
- The Directorate has agreed to provide the audit to us by the end of February 2014.
- Once we have this data, we will then advance our view that the Government needs to invest in an economically efficient, environmentally friendly solution to ensure temperatures are always reasonable - between 17 and 30 degrees - in all classrooms, all the time.
Working together, we can achieve this urgent improvement in our working conditions and our students' learning conditions.