The Morrison Government has revealed it will deliver a new $10 million special deal to private schools to improve COVID-19 hygiene measures. What about boosting hygiene measures in public schools across the country?
No extra federal funding for cleaning protocols has been announced for public schools, sparking outrage from the Australian Education Union.
It is extraordinary that the Morrison Government continues to deny additional funding for public schools in their response to COVID-19
– AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe
The government has said that its $10 million incentive to improve COVID-19 hygiene measures in non-government schools will only be accessible to those that have 50 percent of their students back in the classroom by June 1.
It is a bizarre move: in NSW, for example, public school students will return full time May 26 but private and catholic school students are not under the same obligation. The NSW Department of Education has said public schools receive all the cleaning supplies they need but it’s unclear what this entails.
Haythorpe said: “Mr Morrison has once again favoured private schools with additional funding while telling the community that ‘we are all in this together’. Clearly his government has prioritised private schools over public schools.”
“Principals, teachers and education support staff across Australia have undertaken an extraordinary task to ensure that teaching and learning continues in schools during COVID-19. However they need to be supported in this work with the appropriate health guidelines and resources, including sufficient sanitation and hygiene equipment.”
“AEU members have expressed significant concerns about managing social distancing requirements while on school grounds, and governments must ensure that they have the necessary soap, hand sanitiser, hygiene facilities and extra cleaning available,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“The Morrison Government’s decision to provide an additional $10 million of funding for the private sector will be seen as further disregard of the urgent need of the public sector.”
Education Minister Dan Tehan has simply said that it’s been “working with industry to bolster domestic production of soap and hand sanitiser and ensuring supplies to essential services like schools.”
Supporting schools to adopt stronger hygiene protocols will help ensure the safety of teachers. This includes working closely with states and territories, which are responsible for the provision of hand sanitiser and soap at public schools.