Student free days needed sooner – urgent call to Peter Gutwein

While we welcome the Tasmanian Government’s recognition of some of the concerns of teachers, more is needed urgently – with student free days starting on Monday, 30 March 2020, and to continue for the remainder of Term 1.

“It’s some recognition by Peter Gutwein of teacher health and preparation concerns but it’s not enough soon enough and we note there is nothing in his Government’s announcement for TAFE,” said AEU Tasmanian President Helen Richardson.

“Premier Gutwein needs to apply the leadership he showed in shutting Tasmania’s borders early to our schools – moving to student-free days from Monday, before it’s too late.”

A coalition of stakeholders today including the Nurses (ANMF), Parents (TASSO), Independent Education Union (IEU), Principals, school teachers and TAFE Teachers joined the AEU’s urgent call for pupil free days to start from Monday, 30th March, onwards.

“Tasmanian teachers and support staff in schools and TAFE have felt abandoned by Peter Gutwein and now is the time for him to accelerate plans for pupil free days, and offsite learning for TAFE, because the public education system is being left further and further behind with every day of delay.

“Tasmanian private schools have already announced student free days this week, others have closed, allowing their teachers to prepare for online learning from Monday while public schools are being left further and further behind in terms of preparation time and resourcing.”

Health and safety concerns remain extremely high in schools and TAFE as social distancing and hygiene measures remain problematic, said Ms Richardson.

“In crowded classrooms social distancing and hygiene requirements are impossible and many of our teachers, support staff and principals are in the vulnerable category and at serious risk from COVID- 19,” she said.

AEU Tasmania TAFE President Simon Bailey said he was very disappointed there was no announcement to support educators in TasTAFE and there was extremely high levels of concerns about health and safety, similar to schools and colleges.

“We’re calling on the Government to move urgently to online learning and for adult learners to be off-site,” said Mr Bailey.

The AEU wants to work constructively with the State Government to support planning for offsite learning for Term II, and beyond and this will require measures such as secure ongoing employment for casual, contract and relief staff.

Further information

Media conference at 2pm today at AEU’s Hobart Office, 32 Patrick St, Hobart. Further information Harriet Binet, 0427 841760.