Supporting the independent education community

IEU position for Catholic schools regarding COVID-19

The IEU has been in further communication with Catholic school employers regarding ongoing responses to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) public health crisis. We have formulated a list of concerns to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Read the letter to Directors below, and keep up to date with all developments on our main advice page.

Dear Director


In light of the unfolding health crisis and recent developments concerning Catholic schools remaining open in the foreseeable future, the IEU is requesting the following concerns be addressed as a matter of urgency. These matters are causing distress to our members as long as schools remain open.


Vulnerable employees


Employees who have a verifiable pre-existing health condition (who are not ill) or who are pregnant and those who provide care to elderly relatives within their own household, who are concerned about attending work are encouraged to meet with their principal to discuss their situation. Employees should not be required to produce a medical certificate but should provide some evidence of the condition, which in many cases will be well-known to the principal. Wherever practicable, such employees should be permitted to work from home. Where this is not possible, the employee should be granted ex gratia leave.


Hygiene and Work Health Safety at school


Systems must implement comprehensive hygiene/safety measures including:


•          daily temperature taking of all students with contactless thermometers

•          provision of sanitiser/soap products for all staff and students

•          immediate cancellation of VET workplace visits/ placements.


Additional workload


Teachers should not be expected to deliver face to face lessons to classes and then, in addition, remain in contact with/provide lessons for those students whose parents have elected to withdraw them from school.


To cater for the eventuality that schools may transition to remote (online) learning, systems must provide teachers/administrators with additional release to prepare such lessons. Dioceses should also centrally prepare resources.


Teachers should not be expected to work well in excess of what is reasonable to meet these drastically changed circumstances.


An open dialogue between dioceses and the relevant IEU Organisers is imperative. The IEU acknowledges this is happening in some dioceses already. Weekly briefings/attendance at briefings is considered to be a minimum.


The IEU is available at short notice to discuss these matters.


We will advise members that we have raised these issues with Directors and, as a courtesy to you, we wish to advise that this letter will be placed on the IEU website.