March 23, 2020
Queensland schools will remain open for the foreseeable future, Education Queensland repeated on Monday, although union officials are hopeful this position could change soon.
Union representatives met with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday afternoon.
Speaking afterwards, Queensland Teachers Union (QTU) president Kevin Bates said it had been a “positive meeting”,
Earlier, the Premier said the State Government would keep schools operating until at least the start of the Easter school vacation on April 3.
But she said parents had a choice.
“If they choose not to send their child to school, they can make that choice,” Ms Palaszczuk told reporters.
They could keep their children at home providing they notified the school, and took responsibility for their child and the child’s education.
The QTU, the Independent Education Union of Australia (IEUA) and the Teachers Professional Association of Queensland have called for all schools to be closed as soon as possible.
The QTU said its executive had lost confidence in the decision-making surrounding the continued operation of schools and TAFE colleges during the COVID-19 crisis.
“It beggars belief that schools and TAFEs remain open while a whole range of other businesses close,” a QTU spokesperson said.
“There is no reference to the safety of teachers, school leaders and other school employees in discussions on this issue.”
The QTU said there was also a lack of understanding that social distancing was almost impossible in school environments.
It also claimed some schools are were without promised hygiene and cleaning products.
The IEUA said schools could not meet either their legislative Work, Health and Safety obligations or their duty of care to both their employees and students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It has called for all schools to be shut down nationwide with immediate effect.
“Employees with underlying health conditions, those who are pregnant and those who provide care for elderly relatives in their own household should, with immediate effect, be permitted to work from home or granted ex-gratia leave,” IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said.
“There must also be an orderly transition to emergency schooling arrangements, including support and protocols for online/remote learning.”