Minister Kate Jones called yesterday’s emergency meeting.
Minister Kate Jones called yesterday’s emergency meeting. CHRIS ISON CI

Cyclone lessons for schools will be learned for future

MINISTER for Education Kate Jones says lessons will be learned from Cyclone Marcia.

In a statement released to The Morning Bulletin yesterday, Ms Jones said principals of schools were best placed to make the right calls regarding school closures and openings following natural disasters.

"After receiving advice directly from locals on the ground in Rockhampton and the Queensland Teachers' Union, I immediately conveyed my strong view that any principal who felt it was in the best interests of their staff and school community to remain closed on Monday (February 23) should stay closed," Ms Jones said.

"In the future, we'll now be better prepared to ensure clear lines of communication."

And that's exactly what the Queensland Teachers Union is waiting for.

Earlier this week a union meeting was held in Rockhampton where teachers and principals from the region voiced their concerns about the pressure they say they felt to re-open immediately after the cyclone.

Union president Kevin Bates told The Morning Bulletin yesterday the union was in the "waiting stage".

Mr Bates said two reviews were currently under way regarding how the education department managed the decision-making process to re-open and close schools.

"The department is conducting an internal review where it is looking at a whole range of issues and recommendations," he said.

"The conclusion of the review is not expected for another couple of weeks so the union is currently in the waiting stage. We have provided formal submissions to the department and we await the finalisation of those reports.

"We're waiting to see the full report and recommendations that will follow to ensure that the suggested recommendations are real and measurable."

Mr Bates said although there were a number of widespread issues raised by principals and teachers in the region, the major concern was the safety of students.

"Issues to do with timeliness of decision-making in terms of the closing and re-opening of schools were a priority," Mr Bates said.

"We've recommended that next time an event like this could happen, there needs to be ample time provided to schools and parents about the closures of schools to avoid confusion.

"In our view minimum standards should be met before the school is opened."

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