Media release: More questions than answers for HSC teachers
Teachers affected by the Covid lockdown in the Sydney region are already doing everything they can to reassure and ready their students for the HSC exams. But today’s announcement by the NSW Government that HSC students will return to school on August 16 raises more questions than it answers.
The IEU calls for greater clarity as teachers once again adapt to fast-changing, complex circumstances to ensure their students can take on the HSC with confidence.
“How will rapid-antigen testing be administered and how quickly will results be available? How will a positive test be managed? Will vaccinations be administered at individual schools? Will the local government areas under the tightest restrictions (including the three announced today) be prioritised?” asked IEUA NSW/ACT Secretary Mark Northam.
The Independent Education Union, which represents 32,000 teachers and support staff in the non-government sector throughout NSW and the ACT, anticipates close consultation with NSW Health so the union can support the safety of its members and provide them with accurate detail to allay their concerns. “We expect the buffer of time between now and August 16 to be used to iron out every last detail and contingency,” Northam said.
Since January, the IEU has been calling for school staff to be included in priority groups for vaccination. What the union foresaw months ago is now absolutely upon us. “We now call for urgent priority access to vaccinations to be extended to the three newly announced local government areas of Parramatta, Campbelltown and Georges River, along with Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield, Liverpool, Blacktown and Cumberland,” Northam said.
“We also call for paid vaccination leave for all school staff as case numbers are still rising and the HSC is rapidly approaching.”
The IEU supports priority vaccination for all essential workers, and for school staff to be included in this category. “The health and safety of teachers and support staff is our greatest concern,” Northam said. “Between now and 16 August we will consult with our members and ask the NSW Government to address their concerns.”