ACT lockdown updates

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY 15 SEPTEMBER

Yesterday we presented your concerns and they have been acted on.

We asked the Education Directorate to clarify a number of issues for our college members. Today this occurred.

These are that:

  • remote learning will continue in the first two weeks of term 4
  • on-site teaching delivery will be only for those programs where it is essential for the program to be delivered face-to-face, such as for subjects with practical learning components
  • as a general rule, attendance at college will be limited in these first two weeks as the ACT community will be still in lockdown

Yesterday we also asked: Why is it safe for year 12 students to return to college when the ACT community is still in lockdown?

Today we were consulted on a draft COVID Safety Assurance Plan.

We are assured that a briefing session on this plan will be held with the college sector before the end of this week.

Continue to send us health and safety or industrial relations issues of concern. We have your back.

UPDATE: TUESDAY 14 SEPTEMBER

Today we were provided with some clarity around the teaching arrangements for term 4, with the Chief Minister extending lockdown and outlining the phased return of students to schools and colleges. While it is unfortunate that our members heard of the decision for college students to return to face-to-face teaching via the Chief Minister’s press conference, we understand the difficulties in consulting prior to health advice being available.

Unfortunately, at this stage, we do not consider we have enough detail to fully understand the proposed arrangements, especially as they relate to colleges. We are working with the Education Directorate to ensure that the information regarding the return to site for college students is clarified urgently.

In relation to colleges, the union has requested communications clarifying that:

  • remote learning will continue in the first two weeks of term 4
  • on-site teaching delivery will be only for those programs where it is essential for the program to be delivered face-to-face, such as for subjects with practical learning components
  • as a general rule, attendance at college will be limited in these first two weeks as the ACT community will be still in lockdown

We need to be satisfied with the answer to the question: Why is it safe for year 12 students to return to college when the ACT community is still in lockdown? We understand that a briefing session will be held with college health and safety representatives and other staff, including sub-branch members, before the end of this week.

In relation to our many non-college based members, we have some breathing space for consultation to occur on the detailed plans regarding the return to the workplace. The Education Directorate will be seeking your views by way of a survey and we encourage you to participate.

UPDATE: FRIDAY 10 SEPTEMBER

We know that members are keen to get some certainty about what term 4 will look like. Nobody is more enthusiastic about getting students back to school than teachers and support staff, but that return must happen only when it is safe to do so and in full consultation with the profession. 

As always, our priority is the health and safety of our members. That includes making sure that we all get some breathing space and time to regroup during the stand down period.  We know that, to get some breathing space, our members require clarity on the arrangements for the beginning of term 4.   

We have made clear to government that we require this clarity before the end of term 3.  This will enable our members to commence stand down with as much certainty as possible about the teaching arrangements for at least the first week of term 4. 

Our expectation, based on ongoing consultation with the Education Directorate, is that broad consultation about the arrangements for term 4 will begin with all staff no later than Wednesday 15 September.  Health advice early next week will provide the overarching framework for the way in which our work is conducted.  Following that, detailed planning will need to be undertaken by the employer in consultation with our union.   

Some of the issues already raised by members include: 

  • managing expectations around teachers’ work when some students have returned while others have not 

  • assessment and reporting requirements in the event of an extended lockdown 

  • supporting students transitioning to work or further study, or requiring additional resourcing 

We have raised these issues with the employer and we understand that your concerns are being acted on. 

Please stay safe and as always, contact our office at aeuact@aeuact.org.au if you have any questions or concerns. 

UPDATE: FRIDAY 13 AUGUST

It is clear from member contact with the AEU office that confusion exists regarding the status of teachers as “essential workers” and how to comply with the ACT Government’s stay at home directions.

Despite the urging of this union, school staff have not been given priority in the vaccine rollout. It is our expectation that any member who does not feel safe to attend the school site during a lockdown will be allowed to work from home.

The Education Directorate’s COVID-19 scenario planning is very clear in relation to student and staff attendance at school. In particular, note the following arrangements stipulated in relation to the current situation which involves a snap lockdown:

Most students and school staff would stay home, and normal schooling would not occur.

Students who need to attend school sites (such as vulnerable children, or children of parents who cannot work from home) would be able to attend their usual school for supervision and general learning activities.  School principals would ensure enough school-based staff attended the workplace to supervise these students in consultation and agreement with staff.

The Union’s expectation is that the Education Directorate will consistently implement its plans that have been agreed to with the AEU.

I reiterate key points from my message from yesterday:

  • Working at a school site during lockdown is a decision that members should make for themselves, taking into consideration their own circumstances, including their vulnerability and vaccination status.
  • In making their decision, members should have a conversation with their principal. We will support members, including principal members, if those conversations become difficult.
  • We particularly acknowledge that this period will present challenges for our principal and school leader members and encourage all members to keep us advised of the situation that they are facing so that we can advocate on your behalf.

We acknowledge that this is a challenging time for everyone.  We urge members to stay safe.  If you need any support, please contact our office at aeuact@aeuact.org.au

SNAP 7 DAY LOCKDOWN FROM 5PM 12 AUGUST

As members will be aware, the government has announced a 7-day lockdown following a positive COVID-19 case in the ACT. Members should ensure that they are keeping up to date with the Directorate’s communications and staying in touch with their school.

Key information for members

  • Member safety always has been and remains the priority of our union.
  • We will support members to make judgements about what is safe for them during this period, in accordance with the health advice.
  • Many members will already have made arrangements with their school about attendance on site during a snap lockdown.
  • Working at a school site during lockdown is a decision that members should make for themselves, taking into consideration their own circumstances, including their vulnerability and vaccination status.
  • In making their decision, members should have a conversation with their principal. We will support members, including principal members, if those conversations become difficult.
  • We particularly acknowledge that this period will present challenges for our principal and school leader members and encourage all members to keep us advised of the situation that they are facing so that we can advocate on your behalf.

Our union office will continue to engage in dialogue with the Directorate and will closely monitor developments. We will also continue our advocacy to government at all levels, especially on the subject of teacher priority for vaccinations.

We wish everyone the best in challenging circumstances and urge members to stay safe.

If you need any support, please contact our office at aeuact@aeuact.org.au.

Contact

02 6272 7900

Authorised by Glenn Fowler for the Australian Education Union ACT Branch, 40 Brisbane Avenue, Barton ACT 2600

Hours

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