Government and non-government school teachers have today called for a delay in the face-to-face return of Year 12 students.
On July 28 when the Premier unilaterally announced the return of Year 12 students to face-to-face teaching an additional 177 new locally acquired infections were reported, bringing the state’s total to 2574 since 16 June. That number has now risen to more than 4000.
The NSW Government’s own data reveals that since the end of June the highest number of infections (more than one-quarter) have occurred among those aged 0-19 years.
The situation in relation to COVID-19 and the Delta variant in NSW is clear. As the Premier said, “things are only likely to get worse”.
The risks associated with Year 12 students returning to face-to-face learning have been highlighted by the President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Omar Khorshid, who said last week that this move “seems nonsensical to the AMA”.
We are reminded daily that workplaces and human interaction are the main contributors to increased transmissions in the community. Schools are workplaces and, as teachers, our business is human interaction.
The NSW Government has recently described NSW as being in a state of “national emergency”. The decision to return HSC students in the Greater Sydney Area to schools in mid-August is dangerous, unsafe, and unwise.
As teachers, we are determined to welcome students back to face-to-face learning as soon as possible, but this can only happen when it is safe to do so.
We call on the NSW government to implement the following measures in the Greater Sydney Area:
1. Noting the latest health advice, delay the return to face-to-face learning for Year 12 (this will assist in the efficacy of any vaccinations received by this cohort).
2. Conduct the Trial HSC remotely (whilst it would not be conducted under “exam conditions” it is not a requirement that it be so. It is part of school-based assessment).
3. Consult with stakeholders to develop a road map for the face-to-face return of students from 28 August if it is safe to do so.
The NSW Teachers Federation and the Independent Education Union NSW/ACT together represent almost 100,000 teachers and school staff from more than 3000 schools.