Premier dismisses educators' Omicron concerns

AEU SA media release: Tuesday 18 January 2022

AEU leadership met this morning with Premier Marshall, Education Minister Mr Gardner and DfE Chief Executive Mr Persse to discuss the lack of detail regarding term one plans to return students to preschools and schools.

AEU leadership was prepared to pull the ballot for industrial action if the government agreed to adopt a sensible approach by delaying the start of term by two weeks and immediately commence discussions to put in place the detail needed for leaders and educators to commence the term with clarity in a safe learning environment.

The Premier rejected a delayed start offering only that the AEU meet with the Minister and Department to provide the AEU with ‘briefings’.

“The Premier offers SA educators plenty of praise and thanks but these are simply platitudes if not backed up with actions that reflect respect for educators and their justifiable concerns. His actions are ignoring the fears and concerns of South Australian educators who are simply asking for the detail to guide them in an Omicron learning environment.

"Today’s meeting gave AEU SA leadership no comfort that the Government or the Education Department can provide a safe working environment for students and staff. 

"And now the Premier is hiding behind the National Cabinet meeting on Thursday to further delay any announcement of detailed plans and procedures. 

"Educators return to preschools and schools next Thursday. The lack of detail is a recipe for chaos and is leaving the education workforce fearful and anxious. 

"There is a disconnect between the decision makers and those expected to implement decisions. The AEU offered, in good faith, to work with the Education Department and the Government to assist with their planning. It remains to be seen if that offer is accepted,” said AEU SA Branch President Andrew Gohl.