As I write, Victoria has just seen its last active COVID-19 case cleared, we’ve had a decent run of case-free days and TAFEs in Victoria are handling a return to some kind of ’new normal’ involving face-to-face delivery at TAFE campuses.
Sadly, Victoria’s second wave of coronavirus meant this return to normal has been delayed for longer than we had hoped back in Term 2, as we emerged from the first lockdown. Many of us again found ourselves dealing with remote teaching for an extended period of time.
Looking back, it seems that institutes were generally good at communicating important information about the pandemic response. For the most part, members have been kept well informed. From the outset, the message at my institute was that you should work from home if you could. We were treated to weekly YouTube updates from our CEO, on top of regular email communications.
I know that, across the state, there were some instances where institutes made it hard for teachers to work remotely. Early on, we also heard of some members being required to work at home and yet being refused the use of institute equipment, such as computers or appropriate chairs.
Many practical courses involving hands-on components have continued to work on-site, with the theory elements delivered remotely.
Some institutes insisted that files and teaching documents essential to the teacher had to stay on campuses. These situations were created mainly by overzealous middle managers and were in time mostly rectified.
There were also some instances where OHS messaging from the Department of Education and Training (DET) had been passed on to staff but no provision for social distancing or hygiene was actually made. Some institutes saw large numbers of students turn up for class with no contingencies in place, leaving members to improvise a solution.
Many practical courses involving hands-on components have continued to work on-site, with the theory elements delivered remotely. This blended model proved to be a mixed bag, but many teachers have reported positive results, with a measure of flexibility that has suited both teacher and student.
In my department, we made the decision to return to on-site delivery. We found that the lack of practical classes and increased focus on theory was not working well, with students beginning to disengage with virtual lessons. Student progress had slowed significantly, with many units of work not getting finished on time.
If members have any concerns regarding the safety of staff or students, please get in touch with your elected health and safety rep (HSR) and your AEU rep.
Stay safe everyone.