The Queensland Teachers Union will meet in the evening to consider strike action if the Queensland government does not shut down schools by Wednesday.
QTU president Kevin Bates says the Palaszczuk government’s decision to keep schools open is untenable in light of Victoria and the ACT shutting down their institutions on Tuesday.
He says the union was previously on board with keeping schools open during the coronavirus outbreak because all states and territories had been united on the subject.
“The strength of the position until now, there was a national consensus,” Mr Bates told the Seven Network on Monday.
“What we now have is two jurisdictions who have decided to move early to school holidays and that creates an entirely confusing message to members of the public and to our teachers and principals at our state schools.
“We can’t accept that, if other state and territories, other jurisdictions, move to a new position that Queensland can’t adopt a similar strategy.”
He said the QTU executive would meet at 5pm to consider their position.
He said they prefer not to go on strike and were hoping for an amicable solution.
Officially Queensland schools remain open, in line with Sunday’s decision by federal cabinet, but parents can choose to keep their kids home.
Schools were being forced to operate without promised hygiene and cleaning products, the union said earlier on Monday.
Before the union made its shutdown call, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she would continue to act on the best medical advice, and that was that schools should stay open.
“If there are any teachers or teacher aides or cleaners in that high-risk category, they should speak to their principal, and they should be having non-contact.”
Teachers have told AAP they feel abandoned by the government, and endangered.
“Personally, I am disgusted with the message being sent that we are glorified babysitters so that others can go to work, the message that teachers are sacrificial lambs,” one Gold Coast high school teacher said on condition of anonymity.
“The message (is) that if schools close, kids will congregate in groups in public and increase the spread of the virus – but apparently kids in groups at school do not do this?”
Another teacher says her primary school in Queensland’s southeast has “insufficient soap, no towels”.
“Teachers have been thrown under the bus,” she said.
Australian Associated Press