Coronavirus: schools to remain open for now

The Morrison government announced over the weekend that schools across Australia will remain open.

It is emerging as a challenging time for all AEU members, students, families, and the broader community as the number of cases of coronavirus increase. The AEU has been working with the Department of Education and Training (DET) on a daily basis to monitor the situation and develop advice for principals, teachers and ES.

We have put together a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs), consistent with advice from the Department of Health and Human Services and the DET, about actions which need to be taken to manage any cases of the virus at your school and arrangements for leave and working from home in the event of school closures.

Access our FAQs for schools here. We will update these FAQs as the situation regarding coronavirus changes and advise members through bulletins.

All fixed term and ongoing teaching service employees (teachers, paraprofessionals, ES, assistant principals and principals) will continue to be paid in the event that their school is closed. We are continuing to work with the Department on suitable arrangements for CRTs and casual ES members.

From Monday 16 March, the Department will provide daily advice to principals via email, with the DET coronavirus webpage providing key information as well.

The federal government’s decision yesterday to ban non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people does not apply to schools. The union will continue to monitor the situation and work with the Department, especially around advice relating to school camps, excursions, fetes, concerts, open nights, parent/teacher nights and other similar events.

In the event of a confirmed case at a school, the Department has issued advice, including arrangements for closing schools and ways in which the learning program can be continued where school staff and students are prevented from attending schools. Please see the union’s FAQs for more detailed information.

The likelihood of the virus affecting more Victorians is causing concern for members, students, their families and the broader community. Some stress and anxiety are understandable given the challenges in managing the issues.

As always, students and parents will rely on us for clear information about any effects on students and schools as the outbreak escalates, so it important that all members stay up to date with information provided by the Department and the AEU over the coming weeks.

The AEU will be actively promoting the needs of members with their employer and will be participating in a meeting of other unions and the Victorian Chief Health Officer today (Monday 16 March).

Updated information about the novel coronavirus for the education sector is available here.

Detailed information for distribution to parents and families (including factsheets for schools and students in English, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese) is available here.

General information about the coronavirus can be found on the federal health department website.

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