Could be Coronavirus fears: St Christopher's Catholic Primary
Could be Coronavirus fears: St Christopher's Catholic Primary

Crisis talks as teachers push for closure

THE Queensland Teachers Union has scheduled more crisis talks with the state government in a bid to have schools closed from Wednesday.

The union says an earlier national consensus to keep schools open amid the coronavirus outbreak was shattered this week when some states decided to make their own calls.

Schools in Victoria and the ACT are now shut and Queensland teachers who fear becoming infected want the same protection.

The union has asked the government to keep students out of the classroom from Wednesday, so teachers are shielded from the virus and can focus on preparing materials for mass remote learning.

The QTU will continue to negotiate with the government today, with president Kevin Bates playing down the likelihood of industrial action if teachers don't win their battle.

"We're not threatening strike action … that's not where we are at this stage," he told ABC radio.

Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates. Picture: QTU
Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates. Picture: QTU

"There's massive work that needs to be done in our schools to prepare (for a lockdown). Teachers are unable to do that … when they're teaching as normal."

Mr Bates says teachers deserve protection like any other worker, and the lack of any discussion about their health under the schools-open policy left them feeling extremely anxious.

Officially Queensland schools remain open, on the back of medical advice that it's safe.

Treasurer Jackie Trad repeated that advice this morning as she thanked educators for continuing to do their jobs.

"It is not the view of medical experts that schools should be closed at this point in time," she told ABC radio.

Teachers have told AAP they've been put at risk by having to show up for work at schools that lack basic supplies including sufficient soap for hand washing. They've also said rules on social distancing are literally impossible to achieve in school settings, and feel like risks to their own health have been ignored.

Originally published as Crisis talks as teachers push for closure