The union held a special meeting of IEU Reps in schools in the Greater Sydney Area that are represented by the Association of Independent Schools (AIS) on Thursday 12 August 2021.
The meeting considered a call by the AIS for principals of independent schools to have the autonomy to determine their own return-to-school arrangements within broad NSW Health parameters rather than follow more specific guidelines from the Department of Education.
The AIS attracted media attention on the morning of 12 August 2021, so we called our meeting in response for the same afternoon.
More than 100 IEU Reps attended the meeting, endorsing the following motion:
- All schools should follow a consistent approach to the attendance of students and staff that does not vary depending on the school sector.
- The safety of students and staff should be of utmost priority. In the context of the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus, key decisions about the health and safety of students and staff should not be left to individual principals. Other school sectors and other sectors of the economy are operating under strict guidelines and there is no reason independent schools should be exempt.
- Teachers and other school staff must be prioritised for vaccinations before schools re-open to students.
Given Reps only had a few hours’ notice of the meeting, attendance was overwhelming. Reps also took the opportunity to exchange experiences about how their school is managing COVID.
The union then released its position to the media based on this strong support from so many Reps across a wide range of independent schools. We are hopeful the NSW Government will take the views of school staff and their union into account in determining its policy on this issue.