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COVID-19 update from Department for Education

20 November 2020

We received this information from the Department for Education on 20 November:

Working arrangements for site based leaders and employees for Monday 23 November

Thank you for being flexible and responsive this week, we know the uncertainty can be challenging at times. Despite this, you all continue to demonstrate what a brilliant sector Education is.

As we heard today, it’s safe to return to schools and preschools (with the exception of Mawson Lakes School/preschool and Roma Mitchell Secondary College) and our sites will operate as usual from Monday.

This means site-based staff, who have not been asked to self-isolate, will return to the workplace to provide the education and support program.

We know that for most of you this won’t be an issue, and you’ll be ready on Monday as normal. For those of you who identify as vulnerable, and don’t want to attend the workplace please immediately let your leader know so they can make appropriate arrangements for the site.

Working arrangements for the rest of the term

If an employee identifies as vulnerable, they need to contact their leader to discuss their situation and make necessary arrangements to either attend the workplace as normal or to request to work from home.

  •   If working as normal, consider any additional support to protect their health while at work.
  •   If at home, consider whether normal duties are possible, and if not identify alternative duties.  We strongly encourage leaders and team members to be creative in the duties that could be performed from home by these employees to assist sites wrap up for the year, or start preparations for 2021. Where unable to identify duties from home, employees can access COVID Special Leave with Pay.

If an employee lives with a vulnerable family member and wishes to remain away from the workplace, they are to be supported with flexible working arrangements where possible. If not possible, employees can access their own leave entitlements, and if exhausted they can access COVID Special Leave with Pay.

The entitlement to 15 days of COVID Special Leave with Pay was reset as of earlier this week. To apply please use this form.

People who are considered to be vulnerable are:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 years and older with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • People 65 years and older with chronic health conditions 
  •  People 70 years and older 
  • People with compromised immune systems.   

The Australian Government Department of Health confirm the conditions that constitute a chronic health condition - please refer here.

Temporary relief teachers

Schools and preschools may need to backfill a vulnerable person with a temporary relief teacher to maintain duty of care or learning arrangements. This is a local decision based on the site’s staffing arrangements.

Sites are to access TRTs in their usual way, and any site who needs support with TRT arrangements is to contact their HR Business Partner.

Sites are to ensure staffing ratios, and should not delay engaging a TRT where they are concerned about the financial implications. The department will work through the financial implications with sites who have concerns, and make sure they’re appropriately supported.

Ancillary staff

The department is looking at how to automatically report absences for Thursday 19 and Friday 20 November – there is no need to take any action at this time.

Wellbeing

We know that times of uncertainty can be challenging for some people, particularly when the situation is evolving and changing rapidly.

Remember, the Employee Assistance Program is available and if you need support during this period.

More information

If you have any questions about managing the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace, please call the department’s COVID-19 Information Line on 8226 2000 (8am to 5pm).

Information is also available on the department’s dedicated EDi COVID-19 pages for Department for Education schools.

You can also call the government’s coronavirus health information line on 1800 020 080.