Not everyone is happy with plan to scale back CQ schooling
THE news that State Schools across Queensland were closing to all but essential students from Monday has divided opinion within CQ’s education sector.
While unions including the Queensland Teachers Union and Independent Education Union regard the decision as a win, some educators regarded it as potentially detrimental for students.
Keenly aware of schools being unable to comply with the Chief Health Officer’s recommendation on social distancing, and deeply concerned for the health and safety of teachers and principals across the state, QTU president Kevin Bates was glad to see common sense prevail with the schooling scale back.
“The QTU welcomes the decision of the Queensland Government and the positive manner in which they engaged with the QTU to develop this clear outcome for all Queensland schools,” Mr Bates said.
“The response from members has been overwhelmingly positive. We have had members ring our office in tears, grateful for the outcome and the certainty it brings for them and their health and safety.”
He said a decision was yet to be made about when students would return to school but it would depend on the latest health advice.
“Parents have been assured that such decisions will be made and communicated prior to the end of the Autumn break or earlier if circumstances dictate. The purpose of the work to be completed by teachers on the pupil-free days is to be ready for that eventuality to ensure continuity of learning for students,” he said.
Representing 17,000 non-government teachers and school support staff, the Independent Education Union of Australia commended the decision to go into student free mode from next Monday.
Branch secretary Terry Burke said the announcement was critical in addressing the needs of vulnerable workers in schools as well as in providing teachers and school support staff time to develop the remote learning modules and programs needed to facilitate ongoing student learning given the new reality facing communities.
While she expected the closures to take place, former Rockhampton Girls Grammar School principal Christine Hills said the bigger question was “when would they reopen?”
She said many teachers she had spoken to were opposed to closing schools.
From a health perspective she said teachers regarded schools as playing an important role in providing a safe, regulated environment for children that was often better for them than the alternative of being at home or wandering the streets and shopping centres.
“While infection rates are low in schools, that’s the best place for them to be,” she said.
Despite there being options available for children to be educated from home with online learning and home schooling, she said it wasn’t the same consistency and quality as being taught in the classroom.
Another key consideration was the role that schools played in mental health support and “social meaning making”. This was particularly critical for teenage students who often sought and received greater support from their friends than their family networks.
Queensland schools will go student-free next week, except for children of parents required to physically attend their workplace.
- Queensland schools will have five student free days next week – Monday 30th – April 3. These student free days will allow our hard working teachers to prepare for a potential move to students learning from home.
- Schools will remain open during pupil free days to allow for the children of essential workers to remain at school and for teachers to prepare to move to remote learning from home.
- School break will begin as normal for everyone from April 3, and vacation care will be available for essential workers.
- Essential workers are workers that are required in their workplace. These workers will be required to go above and beyond to help us get through this.
- Long daycare and outside hours school care will continue, but parents are reminded of the need to stay home as much as possible and adhere to the self-isolating rules.
- Schools have two weeks’ worth of learning available to parents for students to use at home and that will be constantly updated for as long as necessary.
- Staff members in schools who have genuine health concerns will continue to have flexible working arrangements, including working from home.