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Home > News > 2020 > March > Decision to move to student free days follows member action

Decision to move to student free days follows member action

Call_for_school_closure_3.pngSchools and kindergartens in Queensland will go into student free mode from Monday, 30 March.  

The Independent Education Union has been active on this matter over recent days.

Union representatives met the Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan yesterday morning (Wednesday, 25 March 2020). 

A key element of the discussions was a declaration of student free days across the country.

The Queensland announcement, in brief, is in the following terms: 

  • Schools and kindergartens will not be open for students generally, but provision is made for some students (e.g. special needs students, or the children of required workers in required workplaces).
  • Staff will generally be in attendance for the balance of the school term.
  • Vulnerable school employees can be provided with alternative work arrangements.

We commend the Queensland government for taking this step.

Our union's view is that non-teaching staff should continue to be employed for the duration of student free days as per existing employment (including term-time staff).

Other matters raised with the federal minister included:

  • Supplies of thermometers, sanitiser, etc. must be accelerated.
  • Hybrid onsite/offsite learning may be put in place with strong caveats as to workload and acceptable staffing arrangements.
  • Our union should be part of conversation with curriculum and assessment authorities in each jurisdiction.
  • ELICOS and ECE sectors will have particular needs to be addressed.

Did you sign our petition?

Our union yesterday launched a community petition calling for an immediate end of Term 1 in schools and kindergartens by a transition to student free days. 

Sign our petition here. 

The health and safety of everyone in the school community is paramount.  

Clearly member action in signing this petition has made a significant contribution to the announced decision to go into student free mode.

All schools move to student free days to end the term

A large number of schools had already confirmed multiple student free days to the end of term ahead of today's Queensland government announcement. 

This student free time is essential for teachers and support staff to prepare schools and develop remote learning modules and resources.

In terms of the operation of an extended period of student free days, a number of key arrangements should be confirmed:  

  • Teachers, school officers and services staff should continue to be paid during any additional student free days (including all term-time staff).
  • The provision of paid special leave in the scenarios contained in our Charter of Action should apply during times of student attendance and non-attendance.
  • Vulnerable employees, such as those with health conditions, should continue to access working from home, even where schools are in student free mode.
  • Local level supervision arrangements should be available for the children of school staff who require supervision during additional student free days. Some schools are investigating the provision of supervision by registered childcare workers or additional paid time to part-time school officers.

New educational resources & work from home protocols

Our union is developing two additional resources that will soon be available:  

  1. Working remotely – FAQs for teachers and school officers
  2. Planning for and managing learning continuity

These resources along with other support materials will be forwarded to members in coming days.

The pandemic is causing stress and anxiety for many people.

In addition to support available through our union, members should seek help if they are in need – avenues for mental health support are detailed here.

Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.