Dr Lee said 5000 TAFE teachers would be upskilled in online delivery of their courses by distance education. As many of 1200 courses offered through TAFE around the state will be delivered online.
“We want to make sure we are doing everything we can to avoid transmission of the virus,” Dr Lee said. “We need to upskill 6000 full-time equivalent staff in online course delivery.”
The NSW Teachers Federation said the suspension of courses was necessary but doubted whether the ambitious aim of training 5000 teachers to deliver hundreds of courses in four weeks could be achieved. “It’s a start,” Federation TAFE spokeswoman Maxine Sharkey said.
Dr Lee said that as yet there had been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on TAFE campuses.
“The safety and wellbeing of students and staff is the highest priority for TAFE NSW,” he said.
TAFE NSW issued a statement saying it recognises the need to provide a quality educational experience for students and to support teachers to move to a “range of connected, online, and distance delivery modes”.
“TAFE NSW is pausing course delivery so that teachers can plan lessons, develop learning materials, and modify training to be delivered to students online,” it said.
“Facilities will remain open so that students can access a range of services, while maintaining social distancing, including disability, library and technology access support.
Courses that begin on April 27 will include face-to-face delivery, with social distancing measures in place. Teachers would discuss these arrangements directly with their students in coming weeks.
The Community and Public Sector Union NSW said it was concerned that TAFE was keeping its libraries open. “We’re currently seeking clarification from TAFE about the reasons behind this, but we’re concerned this seems to conflict with the Prime Minister’s direction to close libraries,” a union spokeswoman said. “We’re concerned this may put members at risk of exposure when it’s not necessary.”