Prime Minister Scott Morrison talks to the media at a press conference. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Prime Minister Scott Morrison talks to the media at a press conference. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

Union rep slams PM’s ‘farcical’ school decision

THE Prime Minister’s insistence that schools are safe despite sweeping closures is “clearly farcical”.

That is the view of Scott Welch, Queensland Teachers’ Union’s Wide Bay organiser, who has called for a short-term shutdown of the state’s schools.

“There is no clear line of logic being displayed at a federal level to what is a very complex challenge,” Mr Welch said.

He said Scott Morrison’s stance on schools was contradictory to the severe limitations placed on weddings, funerals, food courts and beauty businesses, among others.

Mr Welch took issue with the explanation that schools needed to stay open so parents could continue to work.

“Any implications that schools serve to act as a babysitting service are not welcomed,” Mr Welch said.

Mr Morrison addressed the nation on Tuesday night, describing the range of shutdowns as a “significant sacrifice”, tipped to last at least six months.

“Australians should stay at home, unless shopping for essentials, travelling to and from work – where you cannot work from home, going to school and exercising,” Mr Morrison said.

Mr Welch said union members were looking for “clear direction” from the nation’s leaders.

“Teachers are concerned around the health risks for the entire community if schools become the vectors for widespread transmission of COVID19,” he said.

There was no strike action proposed at this stage, he said.

“The course of action that the QTU has taken and continues to pursue is to negotiate a sensible resolution to the current issues,” Mr Welch said.

“The interests of the QTU are clearly to ensure the health and wellbeing of its member while supporting the ongoing education of students and balancing the national interest.

“This will likely be best facilitated by at least partial school closures accompanied by the time, space and support for teachers to prepare for alternate platforms of education delivery.

“The QTU is calling on the governments to close schools in the short term and allow teachers to put processes in place to support offsite learning.”

Mr Welch conceded schools would need to remain partially open to ensure the children of healthcare and essential workers were cared for.

“This might not include every school being left open,” he said.