I would like to extend a big thank you to everyone in schools for the work they have been doing.
It has been a start to the year like no other and I want to acknowledge all the extra energy that has been required in 2022.
We have been advocating for extra COVID-related school safety on your behalf since the middle of 2021.
We made the government aware of steps it would need to take to ensure a safer workplace for students and staff to return to and we were often ignored or refused.
The State Government and DoE refused our reasonable requests for safety measures such as auditing and improving ventilation, installing air purifiers, and removing the requirement for all staff to provide their own masks.
Over time, through strong AEU advocacy, the government started to come up with ideas, mirroring requests we had previously made.
This included providing masks to all staff, having air purifiers in all learning spaces (the government is only focussed on classrooms), CO2 monitors to provide evidence of ventilation, making RATs accessible to all, not having whole school gatherings of staff or students and more.
After initial concerns schools would be left to supply masks and RATs, the DoE has agreed they will continue to be centrally supplied.
For a quick reminder of what our advocacy in union has achieved, click here to download the “Safer in union” AEU flyer, share it with colleagues who are not yet members of the AEU.
We now wait for the release of the plan for Weeks 6-10 but have made it clear that we want to see protocols kept in place and improved, not reduced.
We maintain the call for P2/N95 masks to be provided to staff, we want to see air purifiers in all learning spaces, we want clarity around how COVID leave can be given to relief staff.
We also need to see extra support for relief co-ordinators, we will continue to push for the grants for outdoor learning spaces to come to fruition and we need to see a consistent process in making sure staff and not just families are being informed about COVID cases in schools.
We are still meeting with the DoE twice a week and continually question and advocate for safer workplaces.
Members can be assured we will provide as many updates as possible as they come available.
Thank you again to all members for your continued hard work through these times.
AEU Tasmania President