What will schools look like in Term 2?
As states and territories grapple with the health impacts of COVID-19, they are now faced with the challenge of what Term 2 will bring for staff, students and parents.
Victoria has already announced a largely online learning model for Term 2, with schools only remaining open for children who cannot access learning from home.
It’s expected that other states and territories will announce similar measures later this week.
“For the majority of children it will be online learning for Term 2,” Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan told ABC radio.
Minister Tehan also foreshadowed the announcement of a national approach to schooling for the next six months, including managing the impact on year 12 students.
The Australian Education Council issued a statement on 7 April confirming year 12 students will have the opportunity to graduate in 2020 — alleviating fears these students would face an additional year of schooling due to COVID-19 disruption.
“Students will be able to achieve a Senior Secondary Certificate of Education this year, and that certificate will facilitate access to university, further education and employment.,” the council said in a statement.
Teachers and school support staff more critical than ever
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said teachers and school support staff were in the midst of one of the most challenging periods in living memory.
“In Term 2, our teachers and school support staff will face the immense challenge of adapting to online learning delivery and maintaining a level of school operation — all while dealing with the changing impacts of a public health emergency.”
Mr Burke said the health of school employees must be central to the operation of schools in Term 2 and beyond.
“With schools remaining open in some capacity, our union is seeking a number of protections for staff, including paid pandemic leave, appropriate hygiene measures and special protections for staff in vulnerable health categories.”
Our union’s COVID-19 scorecard is continuing to track our sector employers’ progress towards key staff protections.
Staff stand downs unacceptable
Mr Burke said the shameful actions of a small number of schools to stand down support staff were completely unacceptable.
“As schools adapt to the delivery of online learning and continued operation for some students, there is no shortage of work to be done by support staff.
“Schools need to explore ways to ensure school sites remain safe for the staff and small numbers of students who attend and to enhance the online learning provided to students off-site.
“Our school support staff have a valuable role to play in assisting teachers to provide online learning and maintaining contact with students and their families.”
Mr Burke said schools are continuing to receive state and government funding, which makes the decision to stand down support staff even more inappropriate.
“Our union is working hard to ensure members retain their critical roles in schools as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
“We are committed to ensuring that no support staff are left behind as we move into a new phase of schooling in Term 2 and beyond.”
To view latest updates about COVID-19 and its impact in schools, visit our union’s resources hub.