More than one-third of ACT school staff are not confident that schools are a safe place to be despite very high vaccination coverage among the workforce, new survey data shows.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for teachers would not be necessary because early results from an anonymous survey showed about 98 per cent of teachers were vaccinated.
The Education Directorate also surveyed more than 6000 staff, students and parents as part of consultation on how the return to school should be managed.
It found that 35 per cent of staff were confident that schools were safe, 35 per cent were not confident and 30 per cent were not sure.
Preschool, primary and high school staff were slightly more confident than college staff or those at specialist schools.
Meanwhile, 65 per cent of students were confident schools were safe, 15 per cent of students said they were not confident and 20 per cent were not sure.
Of 3382 parents and carers, 60 per cent were confident about school safety, 20 per cent were not confident and 20 per cent were not sure.
Patrick Judge, senior industrial officer of the Australian Education Union's ACT branch, said the survey results reflected the fact that staff were more aware of the work that needed to be done to make schools safe.
"Teachers and other school staff know ... the conditions that they work in better than anyone else, so they're more aware of what challenges face them - and I suspect that that is a significant driver of that result," he said.
"In a way it's encouraging to see that parents and students have a greater level of confidence that the school and the staff there will look after them."
Staff also raised concerns about extra workload during the transition to school.
Teachers said they couldn't teach onsite and online at the same time and they needed time to transition their planning back to onsite learning.
They were worried that parents might start sending siblings from year levels that hadn't officially returned to onsite learning, who would need to be supervised.
Public school staff said they wanted to see plans in place for vaccination, masks, ventilation, social distancing and cleaning.
An Education Directorate spokeswoman said these health and safety measures would be included in return plans and teachers and school staff would have the opportunity to contribute to COVID-safe plans for their individual schools.
"We are hopeful that this cautious approach to health and safety, based on the advice of the chief health officer, will give staff even greater confidence moving forward," the spokeswoman said.
Mr Judge said concerns about teacher's workload had been raised in discussions between the union and the Education Directorate.
"We've all been keen to make sure that while we're asking staff to adjust once again to different circumstances of work we're not piling more work onto them than is necessary."
A COVID safety assurance plan for schools has been drafted which will be adapted to each school site.
School staff will need to complete induction programs to make sure they are familiar with the extra work safety measures, such as mask wearing and cleaning requirements.
Mr Judge said he expected teachers' confidence levels to lift as teachers became familiar with the new COVID safety measures.
"One of the advantages of a phased return to schooling is that we get to refine those practices as we go and staff get to test the waters a little bit develop their familiarity with the measures, and then implement them, rather than being chucked in the deep end all at once," he said.
Through the survey, students said they were struggling with online learning and wanted school to be fun and focus on friendship.
Parents wanted consistent information on what was happening to make schools safe and the protocols for managing a COVID exposure.
They said supporting young children to work at home was impossible when working at the same time and parents of children with disabilities needed more support.
The feedback showed that end-of-year celebrations were very important to school communities and the focus should be on student wellbeing and social connections in the final weeks of the school year.
Year 12 students will return to class from Tuesday.
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