Aides, office staff supervise kids as teachers stay home
THOUSANDS of teachers are working from home due to the danger of coronavirus, leaving office staff and teacher aides to supervise kids in classrooms.
Education Queensland yesterday revealed that 6 per cent of teachers - about 3000 - are "working remotely''.
"This includes those in self-isolation, vulnerable employees and other flexible work arrangements negotiated with their school,'' a spokeswoman said.
Education Queensland has told schools they can use teacher aides, nurses, guidance officers and chaplains to supervise classroom kids, who are completing the same home-learning lessons as their classmates at home.
The Sunday Mail is aware that office staff are supervising classes in some schools.
Education Queensland's Term 2 guidelines state that principals should have 10 per cent to 20 per cent extra relief staff "available and trained in their school's home-based learning approach to help manage any teacher staff absence''.
The guidelines state that teacher aides can provide "lesson support and adjustments for students on-site and online''.
"Staff who are vulnerable or live with a vulnerable person should not be in the workplace and should discuss options with their principal to allow working from home,'' they state.
"Staff will continue to monitor the learning and wellbeing of their students, whether learning at school or at home.'
Vulnerable staff working from home include teachers older than 70, those older than 65 with underlying health conditions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers older than 50 with underlying health problems, teachers with compromised immunity and those with poorly controlled diabetes or high blood pressure.
Work-from-home teachers can develop lesson plans for other teachers, teach their own classes remotely or via live-stream lessons.
Education Queensland said it did not know how many teachers or students have caught coronavirus, as it "does not collect personal health information of individual staff''.
The threat of COVID-19 contagion triggered the premature closure of schools a week before the Easter holidays.
They reopened last week as "skeleton schools'', to teach only the children of essential workers or vulnerable students until at least May 22.
Asked if stay-at-home teachers could send their children to school, an Education Queensland spokeswoman said that "children of essential workers can attend school on days when they are not able to be supervised at home and no other arrangements can be made''.
"Essential worker means any worker who must continue to attend their workplace for essential business during this time,'' she said.
The Queensland Teachers' Union has threatened to have school shut down if "too many'' kids turn up to class, citing an Education Queensland guideline to have only 12 children in a typical classroom.
But the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) of medical experts has issued new advice that social distancing is no longer necessary among schoolkids.
"AHPPC does not believe that the … rule of no more than one person per four square metres is appropriate or practical in classrooms or corridors, nor maintaining 1.5m between students during classroom activities,'' the AHPPC said in a statement published on its website.
Originally published as Aides, office staff supervise kids as 3000 teachers stay home