‘We’re being sacrificed for the economy’: Teacher whistleblower
TEACHERS say they are being treated like "glorified babysitters" and "sacrificed for the economy" with not enough being done to guarantee their safety as schools stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Queensland Teachers' Union and Teachers Professional Association of Queensland said teachers reported feeling like "glorified babysitters".
It comes as one teacher at Kelvin Grove State College said despite federal and state advice on social distancing and preventive hygiene, it was not occurring at the school and classrooms and staff rooms had no hand sanitiser.
The Education Department did not respond to the claims but Education Minister Grace Grace said it was "absurd for anyone to think" that teachers were in classrooms to "babysit students" with student and staff health and wellbeing always a first priority.
In a letter sent last night to Prime Minister Scott Morrison the joint Australian Education Unions demanded better explanations for teachers to be at work.
"Given the deep ramifications for all public education employees and the 2.5 million students in their care, we formally request that the National Cabinet immediately provides detailed advice about how all public education settings are to minimise the risk to staff and students if they are to remain open," they wrote.
QTU president Kevin Bates said while the best course of action was to follow the expert advice from chief health officers that schools were the safest place for children, more could be done to acknowledge teacher's plight.
"At the same time we know the government is saying to ban gatherings of 500 and 100, and teachers are thinking: why not 28 because they know of media reports of countries with group bans of more than 25 and 10".
The Teachers Professional Association of Queensland said schools should be shut, with the state government requiring teachers to put their own and their families' health on the line.
The KGSC whistleblower said despite federal and state advice on social distancing and preventive hygiene, social distancing and staggered breaks were impossible to put into effect in a school that size.
"Assemblies have been cancelled, that is basically it," the teacher said.
"Hand sanitiser will not arrive until late next week.
"Inter-school sport has been cancelled, however in its place we had intra school sport, in a school of our size, that is effectively the same as inter-school sport. Block exams are still going ahead next week as scheduled."
Mr Bates said teachers wanted to be assured that everyone was looking out for their best interest as employees and the wellbeing of their families "who could be exposed to the virus as a consequence of them being required to be at work".
The Teachers Professional Association of Queensland said schools should be shut down.
"TPAQ are aware of situations in some schools where there is no supply of soap or even soap dispensers in the student toilets. Highly concerning at any time, in the current situation this is inexplicable," a spokesman said.
Late last night the Palaszczuk Government said it would increase the amount of cleaning in Queensland State Schools.
The pandemic has divided parents, with some taking the decision to pull their kids out of school to prevent them getting coronavirus.
One anonymous parent at KGSC, has kept their children home this week because of the "unacceptable risk" posed by other students' apathy.
But mother Rachel Crossland said she was confident in the school's response to COVID-19.
"I think they've had really good chats about handwashing, they've brought home information, they've been thorough, they know about social distancing, I think they're doing a good job.
"My children's teachers are doing a really great job in a really difficult situation.
"I put a great value in education and want schools to stay open."
Originally published as 'We're being sacrificed for the economy': Teacher whistleblower