Education: Term 2

Posted on April 15, 2020

We hope you had a safe and happy Easter long weekend. We realise many of you are taking some well earned time off this week, however, we thought it was very important to send an update following the Premier’s announcement about Term 2.

ou would have received updates from the Director-General about the “Operating Guidelines for Queensland State Schools” for Term 2 – with a ‘home based learning model’ for the first 5 weeks of term. Here are the "operating guidelines". This information and more is also published across the Department’s website.

What does this mean for Education workers?

It means that if you ordinarily work at a state school, as long as you aren’t vulnerable, or you don’t live with a vulnerable person, then you will go to work as you usually would next week.

If you are already working from home or telecommuting, then your current arrangements should not change, they will remain in place unless you seek to review them.

If you are vulnerable, or if you live with a vulnerable person in your household you should contact your manager and arrange to work remotely or work in a safe way. If you need assistance with navigating this process or are seeking advice please contact your union office on 1800 177 244 or at this email – education@together.org.au

Will our work change?

The work being undertaken by education staff will remain largely the same, albeit with far fewer students on site in state schools. Social distancing measures still apply – there will need to be provisions made in teaching, learning and eating spaces so that students and staff do not gather together without appropriate distance between them.

We have sought urgent advice about what additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), if any, will be needed for schools officers performing maintenance in higher traffic areas (eg. Toilet blocks or higher traffic areas), for IT staff – who will no doubt be required to handle many devices and provide much needed technological support and other staff. We will let you know when we hear. If you have concerns please contact us.

Administrative Staff in state schools will no doubt have plenty of work with the proposed amendments to roll marking processes, providing advice and support to families over the phone and continuing to support the school leadership.

Business Managers will continue to have their busy HR, Facilities and Finance roles, with the additional complexity around purchasing hygiene supplies and assisting staff.

The role of Science Technicians may involve video work with practicals, providing data to students or demonstrating practical work in other ways other than setting up multiple practicals for students to complete on their own. Teaching staff will work with Science Technicians to work on how in person and remote delivery will work in Term 2.

For therapists the delivery of therapy services both in person and remotely will need to be rolled out based on the numbers of students attending school and may involve remote provision of services via devices or advice to parents where children are learning at home. We are still working through this with the department.

Agricultural Assistants will continue to manage school farms and care for the animals and crops on each site.

Which students can attend school?

The children of workers who are continuing to attend work outside the home will attend school on days that alternative home based supervision cannot be found for them. This might mean that some students are attending school on some days and then doing ‘home based learning’ on other days. This is a change to the definition of ‘essential worker’ that was used in Week 10 for the pupil free days.

Students who are vulnerable will also attend school – that is defined as – students who are currently receiving services from Child Safety, including children who are subject to a child protection order or children who are subject to a youth justice order.

And, children in designated indigenous communities.

If you are working from home or telecommuting and you have school-aged children, the department are saying that your children should engage in home-based learning if they attend state schools.

We are working through options to propose to government about how workers can manage their work as they work remotely, along with their responsibilities to supervise children and home-based learning. This may need to involve the ability to work additional flexible hours (by mutual agreement) which would allow working parents to complete their work effectively.

Hours of work when telecommuting

It’s important to note that your industrial agreements remain in force when you are working from home (or an alternative work location). This means at schools your ADO agreements, and for regional, central office and OIR staff your ability to accrue at least one day off per month, remains an entitlement.

If you have concerns about conversations being had with you by your manager about your ability to accrue time or requests for you to take leave please get in touch with us – we can support you with these issues. Call us on 1800 177 244 or email education@together.org.au.

The government has released some guidance on how the pandemic Directive and associated industrial instruments work. You can see that here.

Your EB

The Department of Education Certified Agreement 2019 ballot concluded last Thursday at midnight, we are eagerly awaiting the results of the staff ballot to be shared by the Department. We will update you on next steps when we know the results of the staff ballot.

Staying safe and well

It’s important that while big announcements are being made and work and life look a lot different to this time last year that you take time out to check in on your own health and wellbeing. It’s natural that as dedicated public servants, particularly as you support students and school communities that you are focused on others and their wellbeing, but as this is a long process you must also look out for yourselves. We hope you are all able to access some undisturbed time off soon, and that you can recharge.

The COVID-19 infection rate is looking much better, but the restrictions on work, school and social life will be in place for many weeks yet.

PS: Remember – we are here for you if you need us. It's also great to see the messaging in the guideline from the DG about extending temporary contracts and looking after staff – remember to read those messages well! Call us on 1800 177 244 if you need advice or support.

1800 177 244
members@together.org.au