COVID challenges

Key issues for principals

As Term 2 came to an end, many principals were again confronted with the challenges of COVID in the Greater Sydney area and the impact on some other areas of NSW/ACT.

The beginning of Term 3 will now see online learning for at least the first week, the use of QR codes in schools for staff, parents and other visitors and possibly other provisions depending on whether the COVID numbers are brought under control.

The IEU has again called for school staff to be prioritised for COVID vaccinations (see page 2). The IEU’s strong position is that vaccinating principals, teachers and support staff is in the interests of the staff, their school communities and the wider economy.

Noting the recent COVID outbreak affecting schools across sectors in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, as well as South Western Sydney there is great concern that if the situation is not contained, schools are again facing closures, with disruptions to working families and to businesses.

Consistent with the duty of employers to eliminate or minimise the risk exposure to COVID in the workplace, the IEU has written to Diocesan Directors requesting special paid leave for employees to receive COVID vaccinations (see page 1). This means up to two days’ leave (one per vaccination), in addition to existing personal/carer’s leave. The union recognises members may have difficulty booking a vaccination appointment outside school hours.

The IEU is also very much aware of the many other issues principals are facing, including staff shortages, curriculum changes, the NCCD, and NESA requirements for professional development. We welcomed opportunities to meet with Parramatta principal members via Zoom on 10 June and with Maitland-Newcastle principals on 15 June.

COVID permitting, the IEU has planned a principals’ breakfast meeting to be held in Newcastle on 30 July. Opportunities for other regional principals’ events are welcome.

IEU Principals’ Sub Branch meetings will be held on 7 August 2021 (Zoom only) and 6 November 2021 at the IEU Parramatta office and via Zoom.

Pam Smith
Assistant Secretary/Principals’ Organiser