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Critical Staff Shortages at NSW High School

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As if children’s education hasn’t been disrupted enough in the last two years due to lockdowns, now mandates and isolation rules are playing a detrimental role in the limitation of face to face learning, with students in grades seven to ten at Queanbeyan High School only able to attend campus 3 days a week due to staff shortages.

Principal Jennifer Green advised parents and carers on Monday evening that the school would not have enough teachers for all classes for face to face learning, despite extensive efforts to combine classes, reduce the amount of classes for core curriculum subjects, and out sourcing local casual teachers.

In the email, she wrote “due to the number of teachers on leave in addition to the permanent positions we have been unable to fill, we are moving to mixed – mode delivery operations.” The email also stated that due to Covid-19 isolation periods, many teachers and students were unable to attend school.

Amber Flohm, the senior vice president of the NSW Teachers Federation said before the start of the 2022 school year, in the electorate of Monaro, there were already 36 permanent vacancies in the region, and 2383 vacancies across the state.

Mark Latham MLC for NSW and state leader of One Nation spoke about critical workforce shortages in an interview just days before the Queanbeyan High revelation. “Unfortunately, in NSW there’s been 7000 teachers sacked or stood down because of their vaccination status, and this comes at a time of an absolute crisis in the number of teachers in our schools.”

Parents no longer need to be vaccinated to enter schools, yet teachers are still required, exploiting a massive inconsistency.  We know that vaccination does not stop transmission, and even though working teachers have been vaccinated, they are still having to have time off to isolate.

Latham has called for the end of mandates, expressing that the 7000 teachers that have been stood down should be able to return to their jobs, and be Infront of students in classrooms, every day, providing the education our kids are entitled to.

Prue Car, a NSW opposition spokeswoman for education, called the decision of Queanbeyan High “extraordinary” saying “it just goes to show just how bad the teachers shortage is right across the state, and particularly in regional NSW.”

Ms. Car had no reservations in blaming the government, saying that not enough had been done to address the teacher shortage crisis. “The fact that on top of the two years we’ve had, there are students that have to learn from home for several days a week, that’s not acceptable.”

While students in years 11 and 12 will still be able to attend classes 5 days a week, students in years 7 – 10 will be affected, with Ms. Car acknowledging that it is a “fundamental right” of all students to be able to attend a classroom, and that some students at Queanbeyan have been denied that right.

Due to staff shortages in QLD, vaccination requirements for workers in high risk settings was updated on Feb 4, seeing unvaccinated staff invited back on-site to work under PTT (Permission to Teach) or via the Critical Workforce Shortages section of the Public Health Directive.

So why do we now have students in NSW schools being robbed of their rights to face to face education when QLD is inviting unvaccinated staff back? Better yet why are we still being dictated by mandates at all?

As Ms. Flohm said, “this is a crisis of the government’s own making.” 

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