Community consistency and working together are key to safe and successful return to school

The Australian Education Union says the consistent application of health advice and the cooperation of parents, government and educators will see a safe and successful return to full school attendance.

“The Department of Education and Tasmanian Government have listened to the concerns of educators and the result is a clear, manageable timeline consistent with health advice and the easing of community restrictions,” said Helen Richardson, AEU Tasmania President.

“What we need now is for the whole community – parents, carers, government and educators – to work together and ensure the plan and timelines are followed.”

“Teachers, support staff and principals are looking forward to having all their students back, but not before the set dates. A safe return to full attendance requires everyone to follow the advice.”

“The current arrangements for learning at home and limited student attendance have already resulted in unsustainable workloads for many teachers, so parents need to continue supporting learning at home as they have until the time comes to return.”

“Parents, teachers and school staff will welcome the certainty that a firm timeline brings – but everyone should know that if the advice is not followed the easing of all restrictions, including the return to school attendance, is at risk.”

The AEU welcomed the commitment from the Tasmanian Government to support schools and colleges through the next few weeks with advice, resources and supplies required.

“The important thing for educators and parents is to know that there will be only one form of learning delivery – off-site at home learning will be delivered until the announced dates for returning to full student attendance at which time only in-class delivery will be supported.”

“The innovative and engaging new practices learned through this crisis will not be forgotten; they will be incorporated into in-class delivery.”

“The main thing educators and parents wanted was certainty – knowing the timeline and plenty of notice. We’re glad the government has listened and delivered that certainty and notice.”

“The staged approach for primary schools, high schools and colleges will mean a bit of a split for district schools, but the government has clearly learned from the problems experienced with different approaches in other states and we think this is a reasonable approach, in line with health advice and feedback from our principal members.”

“Ensuring that advice for schools is consistent with community restrictions and guidelines is critical – it was never sustainable to tell families that children could attend class with their 60 year old teacher, but not visit their 58 year old grandmother.”

“While consistency is important, every school and college site is different and will be supported to develop site-specific safety plans before a return to full attendance. These safety plans will cover social distancing, hygiene practices, cleaning, access to supplies and managing breaks.”

“Vulnerable educators will continue to work from home and we will work with the government to ensure that this is resourced with centrally-funded relief staff allocated where needed.”

“Every teacher, principal and education support person deserves a huge thank you and congratulations for maintaining a focus on learning through the most difficult of circumstances. We look forward to seeing the cooperation of the whole community to safely support a return to in-class learning on the dates announced.”