AEU welcomes staggered return to schools

The Australian Education Union (AEU) Victorian Branch has welcomed the Victorian government’s announcement that public schools will begin a staggered return to classrooms while continuing to prioritise the wellbeing of school staff.

The Victorian government announced this morning that schools will begin returning to face-to-face learning from 26 May with Foundation as well as Years 1, 2, 11 and 12 being the first students to return. The government plans to have all students back at school by 9 June.

AEU Victorian Branch President Meredith Peace said the announcement would give certainty to teachers, principals, education support staff, students and parents and marks the beginning of the end of what has been a challenging time for everyone involved.

“We’re very thankful to principals, teachers, support staff, parents and students who have handled the transition to remote learning incredibly well, and we’ll do our best to ensure the transition back to normal schooling is equally as successful,” said Ms Peace.

“We know this has been a challenging time for everyone involved and we’d prefer schools be operating as normal, but our first priority throughout the pandemic has been the health and wellbeing of school staff and students.”

“We’re pleased to have almost two weeks’ notice of the staggered return and a pupil free day on 25 May which the union strongly advocated for. This gives staff in our schools time to plan and prepare.

“There has been an enormous amount of work undertaken by staff to make remote learning work, but we can’t easily flick a switch back to classroom learning, so additional time is essential.”

While students will soon begin returning to their schools, the union has acknowledged it will take a while for things to get back to some kind of ‘new normal’.

“Getting students back to school in a staged way is a great first step, but it won’t be school as we’re used to; we’re going to have to continue to take extra precautions and practice strong personal hygiene and social distancing, which will bring new challenges.”

“Students will need to adapt to new arrangements in the playground, there won’t be the usual engagement between parents and teachers at pick-up and drop-off times and staff will not be able to meet together in larger groups, but this is a step in the right direction.”

Full details of the Victorian government’s announcement can be found here

MEDIA CONTACT: PATRICK MOLAN – 0418 173 201

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