Including Remote/hybrid and Staff refusal
Can schools do remote/ hybrid learning? What if we need to close the school?
It is anticipated that schools may experience a reduction in staffing in the weeks ahead. Hopefully the changes to the definitions of close contacts, and the exemption for school staff to leave isolation if they are a household contact will assist to minimise these staff shortages.
Schools will need to consider protocols for managing staff shortages to ensure student safety and continuity of learning.
There is strong support from Health for the continuation of face-to-face learning and it is expected that schools make it a priority to remain open and only move to learning from home for all students in exceptional circumstances.
As was the case in 2021, where needed, schools may consider implementing hybrid models of learning (i.e., a combination of face-to-face and learning from home).
Implementing hybrid models of learning during the pandemic, including remote learning where other options have been exhausted does not impact on meeting NESA school registration requirements.
What can be done to handle staff shortages?
Schools can employ a range of layered strategies to manage schools including the usual processes such as engaging casual teachers or combining classes, implementing hybrid learning models or transitioning to remote learning. Some schools may be able to draw on non-teaching staff to either teach if accredited or supervise students.
Can schools put multiple classes in a school hall?
Yes, schools could put multiple classes in a school hall if needed, particularly as a short-term solution taking into consideration the size of the space and other COVID safe strategies that are available.
Can schools employ retired, unaccredited teachers to supervise students?
Staff who are not accredited i.e. retired unaccredited teachers, or support staff can supervise students without an accredited teacher present if they are not delivering the NESA curriculum. For example, the accredited teacher may deliver the lesson online with another staff member (unaccredited teacher, or teacher’s aide) in the classroom for supervision purposes. Note: Support Staff who supervise students must be paid at School Assistant Level 3 for small groups of students (less than 10), or School Assistant Level 4 for large groups of students.
Unaccredited teachers should be paid as teachers as the MEA does not differentiate between unaccredited or accredited teachers.
Some schools may ask parents to volunteer for supervision. If that is the case, the parent should hold a valid WWCC clearance and receive child protection training (use AIS online module) and duty of care induction, so they understand their responsibilities in terms of supervision and child protection.
Schools may choose to engage parents as casual school assistants to avoid any potential employment relations issues.
Volunteers or casual employees are covered by the same child protection laws and must be inducted and trained before they commence.
What do we do if staff are refusing to come to work?
It depends on the reason but any staff member who is refusing to come to work due to the risk of COVID can be granted leave without pay or the school may take disciplinary action depending on the circumstances of the case. Please contact the Workplace Management Team.
Which type of leave should be used for isolation – sick or personal?
If the employee is well and able to work, they may work from home. This may be difficult for teachers. If there is no work that the staff member can perform from home during isolation the school may impose leave without pay or allow the staff member to access their personal leave or long service leave. Anecdotally, we are not aware of any schools imposing leave without pay for staff who are isolating due to contracting COVID.
If the staff member is unwell due to COVID they are entitled to access their personal leave.
Can a school insist that a staff member does not use the exemption and isolate for a full 7 days?
Yes, and if they do so the school should pay the employee their usual salary and not deduct sick leave or require the employee to take leave without pay.