Confirmed coronavirus cases in Sydney schools
The media yesterday reported two Sydney school closures, Waverley and Moriah Colleges, due to confirmed coronavirus cases amongst the student cohort. Instances like these will only increase as students continue to make their way back into classrooms, and regular school operations resume.
This period of transition is delicate; fraught with the potential for mistakes to occur that could put school staff, students, and the wider community at risk of disease transmission. As we navigate the return to face to face teaching, it is imperative that proper work health and safety requirements are implemented and maintained.
The union is working with all schools in pursuit of a safe, sustainable and consistent plan to ensure the safety of our members and their communities. We will be in contact with members in the recently affected schools to ensure they feel comfortable and protected before they return to school campuses.
In our recent survey of our teacher and support staff members, which received over 3700 responses, only 30% of respondents reported feeling confident in their school’s coronavirus response measures to assure their personal health and safety at work.
In the same survey, 35% of respondents reported being unsure whether medically vulnerable staff (e.g. staff with pre-existing conditions, older staff, staff who are carers for a medically vulnerable person at home) would be supported in continuing to work from home, as schools increasingly resume regular student attendance.
If, as both the Prime Minister and Premier have indicated, further outbreaks in schools are inevitable as we transition back, these members must be properly supported and protected.
It is reassuring to see that both schools had developed and put in place appropriate and effective positive diagnosis response plans. These plans appear to have been executed efficiently, and staff and students were evacuated from the campuses relatively seamlessly to allow for a deep cleaning of the site.
The union would expect all schools to have similar measures in place, the details of which must be clearly communicated to all school staff, both to enable their effectiveness as well as help assuage some of the understandable anxieties of our members.
If any IEU members continue to feel their school does not have appropriate measures in place, or that those protocols have not been effectively communicated to the school community, we urge you to: meet first with your IEU chapter to gauge local specific concerns, inform your IEU organiser of your concerns and chapter decisions, and make representations to your Principal or relevant school leadership.
You will be supported by your union at every stage, and if your concerns are not properly addressed, we can assist you to insist and if necessary, escalate the complaint.
At all times, please remain in contact with the IEU so we can most effectively support you.