A teacher’s strike is looming in Queensland if the Palaszczuk government does not agree to shut down schools by Wednesday.
Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates says keeping schools open is untenable in light of Victoria and the ACT shutting down their institutions on Tuesday.
He says the union was on board with schools remaining open during the coronavirus outbreak because all states and territories had been united on the subject.
“I acknowledge our position all the way along was to accept the medical advice on the basis everybody was in the same boat,” 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.
“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 early Monday evening to consider their position.
Mr Bates said the average age of teachers was close to 50 and those aged 60 or more were in the vulnerable category should they contract the virus.
A QTU representative told AAP that it was unclear if an announcement would be made after the meeting or held until Tuesday morning.
He said they prefer not to go on strike and hope for an amicable solution because their members are “up against the wall”.
Officially Queensland schools remain open, in line with Sunday’s decision by the national 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.