IEU-QNT members absolutely reject any notion of an additional week being added to the school year in their sector, after the Queensland government announced the school year is to be extended by a week in Queensland state schools.
IEU-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said our union absolutely rejects any change to the already scheduled end of the school year.
“The state government clearly sets operational dates in the state school sector; it does not do so in the non-government sector,” Mr Burke said.
“There is no need nor any justification for non-government employers to follow this silly and unnecessary step by the state government.
“IEU members are dedicated professionals who have put the safety and continued quality education of their students and school communities front and centre for the last two years.
“Any extension of the school year would be a shameful lack of recognition of that commitment.
“Members will be working whether on-site or remotely during the two-week delay – so the idea they are to work for an additional week at the end of the year is a nonsense, cannot be justified and is rejected,” he said.
Employers now have additional time to prepare safe return to school
Non-government school employers in Queensland must use the additional time before school commences to plan for a very safe and supportive return to school.
Mr Burke said IEU-QNT members had a range of questions regarding how the changes will be managed in terms of what can reasonably be expected of teachers and other education staff.
“These questions include how remote learning will be conducted for Year 11 and 12 students from the week commencing 31 January 2022,” he said.
“The plan to manage the attendance at schools (from the week starting Monday, 24 January 2022) for vulnerable children and the children of essential workers also needs to be confirmed by employers as soon as possible.
“Non-government school employers must also outline their plans for the eventual reopening of schools as well as questions posed by changes to the structure of the school year,” he said.
Significant issues need to be resolved
Mr Burke said the plan for the eventual return to school needed to deal with a range of significant issues and concerns currently held by IEU-QNT members.
Some of these include:
- how staff and student exposures will be managed and return to school and kindergarten policies;
- what enhanced pandemic leave arrangements will be put in place;
- how air quality and ventilation improvements will be made in classrooms and other enclosed education settings;
- what ongoing work from home policies will be enacted for school staff with medical vulnerabilities;
- will Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) be provided for free to teachers, school staff and early childhood education employees given their role as frontline and vulnerable workers; and
- what provisions will be put in place to support casual teachers and what could their role be in providing remote learning and assisting in filling possible staff shortages.
Urgent consideration also needs to occur regarding the requirement to provide online learning for Year 11 and 12 students – of which the minimal timeframe to action this is challenging – as well as for boarding school arrangements.
Support for all members
Our union has been actively advocating on behalf of members in regard to the above concerns to key stakeholders including employers, government and the media in the last week.
We will continue to do so and continue to be here to provide support and assistance to all members at this, again, uncertain time.
While we face new challenges brought on by the Omicron variant, we will face each issue together as dedicated education professionals who make a difference.
Members are encouraged to raise concerns and advocate within their IEU Chapters at a site-level regarding back-to-school arrangements at their school.
As always, our union is here for support and advice – members can contact us via phone or email.