COVID Schools plan repeats past failings

The State Government’s continuation of COVID school safety measures, while welcome, repeats a plan that has delivered the chaos and disruption schools have experienced in Term 1.

With daily teacher and staff absences of 20-30 in many schools across Tasmania, it is clear the Government’s plan is spreading COVID, not preventing it, Australian Education Union Tasmania President David Genford said.

“The Gutwein Government needs to urgently increase school budgets to allow for the massive task of relief coordination through this staffing crisis,” he said.

“Schools are unable to find relief to fill such massive vacancies, it is clear there never was 1,700 relief teachers available as claimed by the Gutwein Government.

“Relief coordinators and teachers are absolutely stretched to the limit and many are considering leaving the profession, yet the Government has provided no additional staff or resources to coordinate relief and cover classes.

Mr Genford said the Gutwein Government must immediately conduct a proper ventilation audit of all schools and fund urgent improvements to classrooms that will ensure they are ventilated and safe to continue learning through winter.

“Teachers are at breaking point and student learning is at risk – urgent action is required, not another repeat of a failing plan,” he said.

Mr Genford said teacher workloads and stress, along with disruptions to student learning, are at an all-time high, and the Morrison Government’s response is to cut Tasmanian public school funding by $33.7 million.

“The Morrison Government is missing in a crisis once again, with nothing in the budget to make ventilation improvements to classrooms and keep children, families, teachers and support staff safe,” he said.

“Not one cent for public school infrastructure in the Morrison Government Budget when we needed it most, is a disgrace.”