COVID-19 Information

Information and advice for Parent Associations

Lockdown, 2021

Information is correct as of September 15, 2021.

School operations

For the remainder of Term 3,  if you can keep your child home, you must.

For children of essential workers, vulnerable children, or other circumstances where students cannot reasonably learn from home, your local school is open for them to attend, along with after school care. 

In the case of those attending school, students in high school and college must wear masks unless there is a health/wellbeing reason not to.

Returning to school - Term 4

Year 12 students return on October 4 (week 1) and Year 11 students on October 18 (week 3). 

Students in primary and high schools will be Learning At Home until at least October 29 (week4).

The Education Directorate are making plans and modifications to help make our schools as safe as possible. Details on their FAQ for families.

Schools listed as COVID contact locations

Check the Education Directorate's FAQ for families under "School exposure sites".

For those who have had to self-isolate, quarantine or care for someone and can’t earn an income, there is a Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment you may be eligible for.

Home learning 

The Education Minister explains in this video about teacher-led remote learning work, and the Education Directoratehas information here information here. 

We encourage parents to raise difficulties with At Home Learning directly with their school or P&C. P&Cs can be an important conduit for school-specific feedback as we look to help our schools continually improve. Council also welcomes your feedback (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and experiences with At Home Learning and is regularly in contact with the Education Directorate to advice them of parent's experiences and needs.

Students with disability or complex needsdrop in session final

We have organised a drop-in session for parents and carers to connect and chat about home learning and your current challenges. It's on Friday 17 September from 2-3:30pm. Use this Zoom meeting link to drop in for as long as you like during that time frame.

Gathering feedback

Do you have a problem or concern about the lockdown and how it affects schools, students, or you P&C?

We are regularly given opportunities to express parent needs and feedback, so please let us know by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or our Facebook page.

Or come along to our next General Meeting (October 26) October 26) and share your experiences.

If you need help

See our COVID: Getting Help page for sources of fiancial, mental health, parenting and other assistance during the COVID lockdown.

P&C operations

Answers PC COVID

In line with the current ACT-Health lockdown conditions, no face-to-face or school P&C activities can continue (except P&C-run After-school care services).

Community building and fundraising

Following member need and questiions, we have put together:

Canteens

Canteen deed variation

Council sought a variation to the canteen deed to clarify the current closure of canteens has been imposed by circumstances beyond the P&C's control. An email was sent to P&C presidents where the P&C operates the canteen. Please ensure you retain a copy for future reference (contact us if you didnt receive this).

Disaster payments

We have received advice that canteen workers can access the COVID-19 Disaster Payment (see below) if they meet the minimum required work hours lost per week and the other eligibility criteria.

Staff vaccination

As worker in schools with daily contact with students, canteen staff are eligible fo priority vaccination in the weeks following Sunday 5 September.

Assistance

ACT Government assistance may be available to businesses affected by the lockdown - see Business Assistance below.

The registration fee for food business has been waived until 31 March 2022. 

If your P&C employs staff

The following is provided as general information for members, but Council cannot provide financial, accounting or legal advice. PLease contact us to discuss options for your particular situation.

Casual staff

If you employ your staff on a casual basis, you can reduce their hours in the current situation, to zero, without pay. Obviously, this will be hard on staff, but most will be eligible for Federal Government assistance - see below.

Permanent staff

Can you stand-down staff?

Usually, if you ask a full-time or part-time employee not to work, they would be entitled to be paid.  But under the Fair Work Act 2009, Employers can stand down employees without pay if there is a stoppage of work, which the employer cannot be reasonably held responsible for, and the employee cannot be usefully employed.However, for school canteens, it is not clear whether this condition is met by the current circumstances.  As the Fair Work website makes clear, a downturn in business conditions does not justify unpaid stand-down. If the business is directed to close by a Government Directive in response to COVID, staff may be stood down without pay, but the ACT Government's current decision is to allow canteens and OSHC services to remain open.

We recognise that this is a confusing and stressful situation, and invite affected P&Cs to contact us by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we can call you to discuss. While Council cannot offer legal advice, we can discuss options. You may also wish to seek legal advice for your P&C. This article is also an excellent explainer (including quotes from legal experts).We have received some further advice on this in relation to canteens which we will email to P&Cs running canteens.

Before standing down

The Fair Work Ombudsman points our that before standing down an employee, employers should consider all other options, including work from home, change of duties, and taking some types of paid leave (including at half pay).
An employer should discuss and communicate any decisions they make about implementing a stand down with their employees. 

Standing down - the process

Its best practice to notify affected employees in writing if you are standing them down. Fair Work has a Template letter for standing down employees. It includes steps to consider before standing down employees, as well as a letter template for notifying an employee that they are being stood down under the Fair Work Act provisions.

Federal Government assistance for affected workers

Workers who have lost hours and income may be eligible for the Federal Government's COVID-19 disaster payment.  Payments are available for full-time, part-time and casual staff who have lost hours of work due to a lockdown.  We have received advice that canteen workers can access this payment if they meet the minimum required work hours lost per week and the other eligibility criteria.

For those who have had to quarantine there is a Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment they may be eligible for.

Is your P&C at risk of insolvency?

The following is provided as general information for members, but Council cannot provide financial, accounting or legal advice.  

Insolvency is when a company or person can't pay debts when they are due.  ​It is difficult to determine whether an organisation is insolvent just by looking at financial records or accounts. The ability to raise funds, collect monies owed and sell assets are all considered. ​All office holders have a responsibility to prevent insolvent trading by the Association, including not incurring a debt that will cause insolvency. Find out more here.

P&Cs employing permanent or part time staff in businesses that are not currently operating, or operating at significantly below capacity, should review your financial position and know the time frame over which you can continue to operate. ​

If you are worried, we recommend you seek professional advice immediately from your accountant or auditor.​

There are a number of possible actions: ​

  •  government grants and assistance​ (see below)
  •  calling in debts or fees ​
  •  reduce expenses and liabilities (likely to be closing the service) ​
  •  seeking financial assistance from the community, including fundraising ​
  •  negotiating a payment plan with creditors 

Business Assistance

The ACT Government has COVID-19 Business Support Grants for small businesses (like P&C-run ones!) facing income loss due to the current lockdown. Grants of up to $20,000 will be available for businesses who can show a 30% reduction in turnover for one week in the lock down compared to one week in the 3 months before the lock down. Your P&C must have an ABN, a turn-over of more than $75,000, and be GST-registered to apply.  Applications close on 7 October.

The ACT Government has also announced a COVID-19 Small Business Support Grant of up to $10,000 in the form of credits for a range of business expenses including payroll tax, licence fees and utilities.  Check the ACT Government website for further details as they develop.  

The registration fee for food business has been waived until 31 March 2022. 

The ACT Government Business Liaison Line (6205 0900) is also a great source of information on assistance and business activities.

If your P&C runs an After School Care service

We are contacting P&Cs who run these services in their schools to work with them on the complexities of the current situation. See items above on insolvency, business assistance and for employers. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.with enquiries.

General information

Please regularly check the latest advice from ACT Health, available from www.health.act.gov.au

The ACT Government's business liaison help line is a great place for advice and details of regulations on activities: 6205 0900 

 

Last updated 15 September 2021.