OPL Coronavirus Information and Updates

OPL Information and Updates Regarding Placements in 2020

Still current at: 5 April 2020

Updated: 3 April 2020

The School of Education and the Office for Professional Learning (OPL) have made a decision to suspend all school and some early childhood placements for Trimester 1 until later in 2020. There is much uncertainty around whether schools will continue to operate in the near future, so to allow for better planning and to allay any fears, the decision to postpone placements has been made.

As of now, schools are centres and open. There are rumours about schools being closed or the school holidays being brought forward to slow the COVID-19 outbreak. Professional experience placements are still a requirement of accreditation and will not be waived so the Office for Professional Learning (OPL) is working on ways to support students to complete placements. Please remember, these measures may change as the COVID-19 containment rules are updated.

It is possible the placement period from 1 June may not proceed for 'non-In-Service placements'. At this stage the NSW Police Commissioner believes the current lockdown will continue until at least July. The OPL will evaluate the 1 June period as early as possible to allow for better planning for students. If you are concerned by the level of uncertainty please choose a later date in the year for your preferred placement period. The increased number of students requesting placement combined with school closures and teacher’s working remotely will be challenging for schools to manage. Priority will be given to final placement students.

Postponement Dates and Special Extension of Time Information (for Early Childhood Placements)

Early childhood students need to discuss their placement and SET dates with their early childhood unit co-ordinator.

Postponement Dates and Special Extension of Time Information (for School-Based Placements)

The new term 2 placement dates for 2020 are as follows:

New Trimester 1 Placement Period New Trimester 1 Placement Dates
Postponement period 1 1 June to 26 June
Optional Period for those with no coursework in Trimester 2 20 July to 14 August
Postponement Period 2 10 August to 4 September
Postponement Period 3 12 October to 6 November

Dates are given for four (4) week placements. If the weeks do not match your requirements, please add or remove weeks from the end of the relevant period described above. Placements are allowed to be split around (before and after) the school holidays for the longer (six weeks or more) placements. Postponements will need to be approved by the placement school.

To assist through this postponement the School of Education will support students using the following methods:

  • For students enrolled in a subject with professional experience who have not yet begun their placement will be eligible for a Special Extension of Time (SET). This will allow you to be given a later date to begin your placement.
  • For students who have begun placement and are up to 10 days in, the placement will be postponed and restarted from the beginning during one of the periods described above. These students will be granted a SET as mentioned in the first point.
  • For students who are significantly into their placement (10 days or more) but not in the final week, the Office for Professional Learning will work with you to determine the best course of action. We will allow for a reasonable delay with placement continuation but not one that will cause issue with integrity of the course or any attached assessments like the TPA. Students who wish to utilise this option need to be aware schools may not re-open in a reasonable time and will require the placement to be restarted from the beginning. These students will also be granted a SET to complete this placement at a later date.
  • For students who are in the final week of their placement, the OPL will work with the student and supervising teacher on a case-by-case basis.

Any Special Extension of Time will carry a suggested expiry date that can be extended providing there is a reason to do so. If you already have a confirmed placement, you will be granted a SET.

General Information

For students who are worried about contracting COVID-19 or have family who are at risk if they catch the virus, we suggest not going on placement this year. In this case, we could either grant a SET or you could consider withdrawing from the unit with professional experience. For the latter you will need to speak with the Education Enrolments team.

We acknowledge these solutions may not assist everyone and may mean a delay in people’s progression through their degrees. If schools are not available for placement, then a delay is inevitable, regardless of the OPL’s procedures. During this time, the OPL will be as flexible as possible while ensuring procedures are followed to ensure your accreditation to teach and the integrity of our degrees remain unaffected.

This is a public health emergency that must be taken seriously. It may not affect you or be in your community, however, it can affect others and it has the potential to spread very quickly. There were relatively few cases in Australia at the beginning of the crisis and now there are more than 5000 cases, rising daily.

All dates for postponement will be reviewed as this situation unfolds. For those who have placements confirmed, schools will be contacted about the new arrangement on your behalf. The OPL will contact you about the changes and seek your preferences. Schools may not be in a position to respond immediately so we ask you for your patience.

We thank you for your understanding. Should you require further information, please contact the OPL. It would be best if any requests are sent through AskUNE as this will provide a written record of communication.

FAQ

Will I be allowed to complete placement because there is no virus where I live?

No. All placements are subject to the approval of the Office for Professional Learning. In the interest of public safety, we have made the decision to suspend all placements until at least June 2020. We appreciate that this is an incredibly difficult position for our students to be in, and we are committed to supporting our students through this time.

My school has gone to online learning, can I complete placement in this manner?

To this date, we can confirm that NESA has said the final placement cannot be completed in an online teaching scenario. Should students be on their graduating placement, they will not be allowed to complete placement in this manner. The OPL is seeking confirmation about earlier placements being completed online, however, has had no directive as yet. Therefore, at this time, we cannot approve in-school placements to be completed online.

Why are placements being suspended?

The COVID-19 virus has the potential to devastate communities. Some countries around the world have had trouble containing the spread and many people have died. The virus seems to not affect younger people as much as older ones but this does not mean we can be complacent. Regardless of prevalence within a community, this is a medical emergency that requires all governments, businesses and individuals to work together to assist with stopping the spread of this virus. Needlessly risking students and their communities is not conducive with stopping the spread.

I am partway through my placement, what should I do?

If you have completed fewer than ten days, you will have to restart your placement at a later date. We appreciate that this is a very difficult position for our students, but we cannot compromise the integrity of our accreditation process. We will of course do everything we can to support students who have been adversely affected by this situation.

If you have completed ten or more days, we will assess your ability to return to the school when possible to complete the remaining days of your placement on a case by case basis. In this case, please ensure that you retain a copy of your attendance register (where applicable) and send this through to the OPL via AskUNE. Please be aware, this may affect your ability to complete any TPA’s relevant to the unit, and so students should be mindful of this obstacle.

If delays are larger than anticipated this may affect whether the OPL can allow you to re-commence your placement.

If your school has agreed to have you back later in the year on a tentative basis, please notify the OPL of the prospective dates.

I am due to commence my placement in Term 2, will this still be going ahead?

Not as it was confirmed. Placements will be required to be completed at a later date as described in the first section of this page.

I haven't been allocated a placement this year, will I be able to complete a placement this year?

This is unknown. At this stage, we will be looking to postpone all placements into one of the date periods set in the first section. However, we cannot predict the future nor can we safely say the what the future holds. The best we can hope for is that the virus diminishes and school placements are not disrupted. You should plan for the possibility of placements not occurring in 2020.

I'm due to graduate this year, will I still be able to finish?

This is unknown. At this stage, we will be looking to postpone all placements into one of the date periods set in the first section. However, we cannot predict the future nor can we safely say the what the future holds. The best we can hope for is that the virus diminishes and school placements are not disrupted. You should plan for the possibility of placements not occurring in 2020.

 My school still says I can stay on, am I allowed to?

No. All placements are subject to the approval of the Office for Professional Learning. In the interest of public safety, we have made the decision to suspend all placements until at least June 2020. We appreciate that this is an incredibly difficult position for our students to be in, and we are committed to supporting our students through this time.

My school has offered to take me later this year, can I do this?

If a school is willing to take you later in the year, the OPL will accommodate this providing it does not cause issues with any of your studies. However, be aware that schools may not be able to accommodate placements this year as we are unsure whether the COVID-19 virus will continue to grow or will become contained.

My Special Extension of Time (SET) is due to expire before I can complete my placement, what can I do?

We are able to grant extensions to existing SETs in this circumstance, which will allow you to complete placements when circumstances allow. Please contact the OPL via AskUNE if this situation applies to you so we can update your SET.

I'm pregnant and won't be able to complete a placement at a later date, what can I do?

In this case, we are more than happy to grant a SET for you to complete your placement at a later date. If a 12 month SET does not allow sufficient time for your circumstances, we may be able to extend the SET dates on a case by case basis. Please contact the OPL via AskUNE if this situation applies to you.

It may however be more suitable to withdraw from the unit and re-enrol at a more suitable time. For best advice, contact the Education Enrolments Team.

If you are concerned about your health in this time, please refer to the WHO guidelines regarding COVID-19 and pregnancy - https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-on-covid-19-pregnancy-childbirth-and-breastfeeding

If I am given a Special Extension of Time (SET) how long will it last?

only for the practical component of the unit. If there are additional extenuating circumstances, we may be able to extend these dates on a case by case basis. Further information about associated assessment tasks will be added soon.

Are In-Service Placements still going ahead?

In-Service placements are still able to continue through this time if the school or centre remains open and has not gone fully online. Final and graduating school placements cannot be completed as In-Service at this stage. The two early childhood out of centre units are still required to be completed out of centre.

Will UNE's Insurance Cover me if I Catch COVID-19?

UNE’s insurance does not cover illness suffered while on placement. This is particularly pertinent to the COVID-19 pandemic.