Safety and hygiene protections must be guaranteed with student return
Comprehensive health and safety precautions will be critical in schools with the return of on-site teaching for all students.
IEUA-QNT Assistant Secretary Brad Hayes said that enhanced cleaning measures and best practice safety protocols must underpin all school operations in every school.
"Our union is ready to take action and support members if these protections are being ignored in a workplace," Brad said.
Comprehensive cleaning, hygiene and safety precautions
Schools must provide an appropriate level of hand sanitiser (+60% alcohol), hand washing procedures and coughing/sneezing hygiene education.
Additional cleaning staff should ensure that high-touch surfaces and common areas are cleaned after each student cohort or class movement.
Schools must enact health department protocols in the case of any suspected infection in a school community. This will include protocols for when a school site is required to close for thorough decontamination.
Read our Health and Safety in Education Workplaces Factsheet for more information.
Physical distancing in schools
Physical distancing in schools is an essential risk minimisation measure. Our Factsheet explains why.
Physical distancing measures must be in place for adults – staff and parents should not congregate in common areas and a distance of 1.5 metres should be maintained. Offices and workstations should seek to provide 4 square metres of workspace for each employee. Student drop off and pick up areas should avoid any unnecessary contact.
While distancing measures are not mandated for students in classrooms – they represent a “reasonably practicable” safety intervention in line with the Workplace Health and Safety Act.
Our union strongly recommends that social distancing measures be maintained for students (some of whom will be 17 or 18 years of age in secondary schools). School arrangements, classrooms and facilities should be reconfigured.
Mental health and wellbeing – proactive employers needed more than ever
Employers must recognise the tremendous toll that recent events may have had on employees – unprecedented educational change, excessive workloads and ongoing safety threats are having widespread mental health implications across the education community.
Employer programs to support and protect staff wellbeing need to be prioritised.
Workload interventions to help with work-life balance, workplace support networks and a compassionate approach to employee leave and flexible work requests are just some ways employers can make a real and positive difference.
Union support and action is here to enforce safety measures
Our union will not accept a situation where members are placed on the front line of a public health pandemic with inadequate safety protections.
We are here for you. Contact our union or talk to your local Chapter Representative if safety precautions are being ignored.
Our collective strength is the greatest protection that we have.
Remember, further advice and information is on our COVID-19 resources hub.