National Cabinet must provide expanded COVID-19 testing for education employees

On March 25 the National Cabinet approved expanding COVID-19 testing criteria to new groups, including all health workers, all aged/residential care workers, and high-risk settings where there are two or more plausibly-linked cases, such as aged and residential care, remote Aboriginal and Torres strait islander communities, detention centres and correctional facilities, and boarding schools.

However this new criteria does not include education employees at preschools, schools and TAFEs.

This is despite there being significant health and safety risks for our members which must be mitigated by the Federal and State/Territory governments.

The AEU is gravely concerned that education employees are not included in the expanded list of testing criteria. Education staff are essential in ensuring that students have access to a high quality education, especially during the transition to an emergency mode of operation for preschools, schools and TAFE.

The design of many schools, preschools and TAFEs also makes social distancing difficult.

The AEU is particularly concerned about staff who are identified as high risk, vulnerable or caring for vulnerable family members and those staff who work in higher risk settings. However it is important that all education workers are included in this criteria.

Governments have a fundamental obligation to ensure their safety and the safety of the students in their care.

The National Cabinet and the Chief Medical Officer must approve COVID-19 testing for all education employees as a matter of urgency.