COVID-19 (Coronavirus) information

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) information updates

Department of Training and Workforce Development Executive and TAFE Managing Directors are working together to ensure the vocational education and training (VET) sector in WA is well placed to manage COVID-19 developments. 

We are working closely with lead agencies including the WA Department of Premier and Cabinet and Department of Health to ensure our approach is informed by, and aligns with, central coordination points.  
 

COVID-19: Keeping you informed.

Changes to WA TAFE college operations from Monday 30 March

The Minister for Education and Training has announced changes in operations for WA TAFE colleges in response to COVID-19, effective Monday 30 March.
 

1585393094

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information update 18 March 2020

Some new measures have been put in place to help manage COVID 19 in Australia.
 

  • Non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people are banned by the Australian Government from 18 March 2020.
  • The Australian Government announced Level 4 travel advice for Australia: do not travel.  All Australians are advised to reconsider their need for overseas travel at this time.

These measures are in addition to requirements in place from 16 March:

  • anyone arriving in Australia from overseas will be required to self-isolate for 14 days; and
  • non-essential outdoor gatherings for more than 500 people are banned.

What does this mean for TAFE staff, students and visitors?

TAFE colleges are open and students can attend classes. All students, staff, parents/carers, contractors, visitors and volunteers should continue to follow health advice for self isolation.
 

  • Anyone who has returned from overseas cannot attend TAFE for 14 days.
  • Anyone who has been informed by public health authorities that they have been in close contact with a confirmed case of Coronavirus (COVID-19), they must also isolate themselves for 14 days after the date of last contact with the confirmed case.

Minimising personal risk

The risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission in Australia remains low, however the situation is evolving. Western Australians should remain alert, but not be alarmed.

  • Follow good hygiene practices such as washing your hands with soap, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid close contact (maintain a distance of at least one metre) with anyone who has cold or flu-like symptoms.

If you have cold or flu-like symptoms and/or are concerned that you may have been in contact with some who has, or if you become unwell and think you may have symptoms of Coronavirus, seek medical attention. Tell your doctor about your symptoms, travel history and any recent close contact with someone who has or may have Coronavirus.

If this is you, please notify your TAFE college immediately to advise you will be away for the isolation period, and confirm the date/s and location/s of your travel.

Gatherings

From 16 March 2020, the medical advice preventing non-essential, organised gatherings of 500 people or more going ahead will be enforced.  This is for indoor and outdoor events. 

From 18 March 2020 non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people are banned by the Australian Government.

For TAFE colleges, this means smaller gatherings, such as graduations and forums will probably be cancelled.  You will be notified by your TAFE college of events that have been cancelled.

Social distancing

Everyone should practice ‘social distancing’.  This means you should keep a safe distance between you and others in public places, and you should not shake hands or hug when greeting others.

Training sector pandemic incident response to COVID-19

The Department of Training and Workforce Development Executive and TAFE Managing Directors are working together to manage our Pandemic Incident Response Plan, with a key focus on minimising risk to students and staff. It’s important that we take precautions wherever possible to control the spread of the virus.

We continue to liaise closely with lead agencies in Western Australia, including the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and Department of Health, to ensure our approach is consistent with current information and advice. 

1584918000

Frequently asked questions about COVID-19

In response to reported cases of COVID-19 in Australia and overseas, the Department of Training and Workforce Development and TAFE are acting on national public health advice from the Australian Department of Health. A highly precautionary approach is recommended.

National public health advice is on the Australian Department of Health website

The WA Department of Health website has further information and fact sheets for parents, students and staff, and access to a helpline on 1800 300 243.

The following frequently asked questions provide general advice and information for students, staff, parents/carers and all other visitors to TAFE campuses and Department of Training and Workforce Development workplaces, and publicly funded RTOs in WA. Information will be updated as advised by the relevant authorities.

Changes to WA TAFE colleges from Monday 30 March

Is TAFE open? 

The TAFE colleges remain open. Essential services including student resource areas will be available for those that need access to PCs if they don’t have access at home. Social distancing and increased cleaning of these areas is in place. Some high priority courses, such as training in essential services, will continue.

Your lecturer will give you specific information about arrangements for your course. Online courses will also continue. Other support services on campus will still be available.

Where will I find out what is happening in relation to my course?

There are a number of ways you will find out.

Your college will email or send a text to you over the weekend (March 28/29). Your lecturers will give you further specific information about arrangements for your course.

If students attend class on Monday, lecturers will advise them of the new arrangements.

Are online courses continuing?

Yes. If you are currently doing your course online, this will continue.

Will I be disadvantaged or be required to pay more?

Students will be assisted to complete their course without extra cost.

How will I continue my practical training and job placements?

Options are being looked at such as rescheduling and restructuring courses, and simulated practical training where work placements are unavailable.

How can I access a PC to continue my training if I don’t have one at home or I have internet access problems?

Student learning centres will still be open with suitable social distance arrangements. Additional cleaning is occurring in these spaces.

My school student is enrolled for some courses at TAFE, should they attend classes next week?

If you are choosing to have your child stay at home, arrangements will be in place to ensure catch up training is provided.

If your child is attending school, the TAFE will work with the school to make suitable arrangements.

I’m an employer and unsure about my apprentice’s training?

If training is scheduled during the pause period then you should contact your TAFE to discuss arrangements. In some cases scheduled training may continue.

Which courses will remain face to face?

 All courses are expected to move in some way to a blended delivery which means that there will be a mix of online, interactive distant learning, and for some courses necessary face to face components.

The best way to deliver the course will be assessed by lecturers in the period available up until the start of term 2.

How are TAFEs preventing the spread of COVID19 in courses that continue face to face delivery?

Hygiene practices and social distancing is being practiced in accordance with the most current health advice.

Lecturers are advising students to practice social distancing measures, and are applying and monitoring social distancing during classes.

How will online learning work?

Your lecturer will advise you how your blended learning programme will be delivered.

What if students don’t have access to internet or internet access is minimal?

For those students with digital access problems, there will be access to some digital facilities at TAFE campuses to continue learning.

Will any student who is unable to access an online delivery method be disadvantaged or penalised?

No student will be penalised and TAFEs will work with students to identify solutions for their specific circumstance.

Will a student who is unable to attend face to face delivery classes for COVID19 reasons be penalised?

No student will be penalised and TAFEs will work with students to identify solutions for their specific circumstance. 

What support services exist for students?

While training delivery is paused, the TAFE colleges remain open should students have any queries about their future studies.

How are we supporting lecturers and staff to deliver online?

The pause in training delivery is to enable lecturers to reframe courses to maximise distant learning to reduce virus transmission risk.

Where it is not already in place, a blended delivery of training via online and other interactive modes will be introduced. Face to face delivery will still continue where necessary where adequate social distancing measures can be implemented.

TAFEs will work with students that have particular problems with new modes of delivery.

What are the cleaning arrangement for TAFE colleges?

TAFEs have increased cleaning across all campuses.

How are international students being assisted?

International students will receive either a text or email to their student account this weekend about the pause in some TAFE activities. They will also receive information from their lecturer on Monday about specific arrangements for their course. The colleges will be structuring learning to ensure any course catch-up occurs.

As always, TAFE International is available to provide personal assistance to students who are unsure about any issue. Assistance is available by phone on 9218 2100 and by email on admissions.tiwa@dtwd.wa.gov.au.

Students in financial difficulties or needing to return home should also make contact with TAFE International.

Why are TAFE libraries remaining open when the Prime Minister has ordered all libraries to be shut?

TAFE libraries will only be accessible to TAFE students and staff. They remain open to ensure PCs continue to be available for students who don’t have access to equipment or have poor connectivity.

TAFEs have increased cleaning across all campuses and social distancing requirements are in place.

Are Jobs and Skills Centres still open?

Yes.

What if my apprentice goes to TAFE and the course is paused – what support is there for employers?

Employers will be contacted about arrangements for their employees and are welcome to approach their regular point of contact.

What about private RTOs, are they remaining open?

Students who are uncertain of training arrangements should contact their provider directly. RTO’s will be assessing their own situation and making their own decisions/arrangements.

General questions

What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a type of virus that can affect humans and animals. Some coronaviruses cause illnesses similar to the common cold, and others cause more serious illnesses,including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). The current coronavirus originating in Hubei Province, China, is called ‘novel’ because it is new and had not been detected before this outbreak. 
What does 'self-isolate' mean? 

From 16 March 2020, anyone arriving in Australia is required to self-isolate for 14 days. This means students, staff, parents/carers, contractors, visitors and volunteers cannot attend TAFE for 14 days if they have returned from overseas.

Anyone who has been informed by public health authorities that they have been in close contact with a confirmed case of Coronovirus (COVID-19) must also isolate themselves for 14 days after the date of last contact with the confirmed case. During the 14 days of isolation, you must stay at home (or in your hotel if applicable) and don’t go to public places including work, school, childcare, university or public gatherings. Only people who usually live with you should be in the home.

Do not see visitors. If you are in a hotel, avoid contact with other guests or staff.

Please refer to the Australian Government Department of Health's advice for travellers, for more information.

 Are WA TAFE colleges still open?

Yes — classes at WA TAFE colleges are currently operating as normal. However; some gatherings such as graduations and forums may be cancelled. If this is the case, you will be notified by your TAFE college.

How can I prevent the spread of COVID-19?

The risk of COVID-19 transmission in Australia remains low, however, the situation is evolving. To minimise your risk:

  • follow good hygiene practices, such as washing your hands with soap and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing; and
  • avoid close contact (maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres) with anyone who has cold or flu-like symptoms.

For students

Can I attend classes, if I don't need to self-isolate?
If you are unwell you should not attend class, even if you haven’t had contact with a person who may have COVID-19.  It is important that you stay home and only return to class when you are well again.
Will I miss out on my studies or fail my course if I have to self-isolate, or if I get sick?

If you are required to self-isolate, or become ill with Coronavirus, you can arrange other ways to continue your TAFE studies.

Please make phone or email contact with your trainer/lecturer, or contact your TAFE college directly if you would like more information about available options.

If I must travel, what should I do?

We realise there will be some special circumstances where it is not possible to defer overseas trips (for example urgent family circumstances). If you must travel, you need to advise your TAFE college so they can expect two weeks absence for self-isolation following your return. If you become unwell during your self-isolation period, you should also let your TAFE college know.

I am very stressed and worried about the Coronavirus. Can someone help?

It's reasonable to be concerned about the Coronavirus, but try to remember that experts here in Australia and all around the world are working hard to keep people as well as possible. You should also feel assured that your TAFE college is taking all necessary steps to minimise the risk for their students.

The Beyond Blue website has some useful tips and information that may help with your concerns.

Your lecturer/trainer may be able to help, or you could also phone the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 for free advice.

For publicly funded RTOs

If I cannot deliver training, undertake assessments or visit the workplace of an apprentice or trainee because the employer won’t release them or allow me access to the workplace, what do I do?
Discuss the situation with the apprentice/trainee and their employer, to determine if there are alternative options to continue training. These options may include the following.
 

Extend the duration of the training contract
A training contract expires if it reaches the nominal term without the apprentice or trainee having attained all of the required competencies. If the apprentice/trainee requires more time to complete their training, parties should extend the training contract. All parties should agree to extend the training contract before a request is made to Apprenticeship Office.

Extending the training contract provides more time for the apprentice/trainee to complete on and off the job training requirements. This may assist in periods where apprentices or trainees need to take an extended absence from work.

Vary the training contract
The parties to a training contract may vary it from full time to part time, provided that all parties agree to the details of a variation prior to notice being given to Apprenticeship Office.

The parties to a training contract may vary from one RTO to another, provided that all parties agree to the details of a variation, prior to notice being given to Apprenticeship Office.

Varying the training contract from full time to part time may provide continuity of employment for the apprentice/trainee.

Suspend the training contract
A training contract may be suspended following agreement between the parties (employer and apprentice/trainee) involved in that training contract. Suspension of a training contract ceases the training contract obligations for both the employer and the apprentice/trainee for an agreed period. At the conclusion of the agreed period, the training contract will resume.

Suspending the training contract would allow you to recommence the apprentice/trainee at a later date, when conditions improve; without the loss of continuity for the apprentice/trainee.

Assign/transfer the training contract to a new employer

An employer may assign (transfer) a training contract to a new employer if the apprentice or trainee and the new employer consent to the assignment, and the training contract is still in effect. Assigning the training contract to a new employer allows the apprentice/trainee to continue their apprenticeship/traineeship and to remain in paid employment.

Please note the Department recognises that the above situations may prevent you from meeting your minimum two visits annually of an apprentice or trainee in the workplace..

If I cannot deliver training, undertake assessments of visit the workplace of an apprentice or trainee because I no longer have trainers available or capacity to offer alternative training options such as online, what do I do?

Please refer to the answers provided for the question above.

What do I need to do if I have to make adjustments to, or suspend, my training and assessment arrangements for publicly funded students?

Contact your case manager to outline your proposed arrangements, prior to communicating these changes to students. 
Once the proposed arrangements have been approved, communicate the changes to students. Please retain a copy of these communications, for audit purposes.

Can I change my face to face delivery to online delivery using options such as Skype, Virtual Classroom, teleconferences etc?

Yes, as long as these delivery options continue to meet the learning outcomes defined for the qualification in the associated training package. 

Can training delivered by online options be reported as Outcome 5 — In training with evidence?

Yes, as long as you have evidence of the students' participation in the training along with notes confirming delivery of content relevant to the unit(s) delivered during the session/s being reported with Outcome 5.

What will be the impact on my contract if I am unable to meet my monthly reporting obligations?

Not meeting your monthly reporting obligations during this period will not be considered when reviewing your contractual performance. However please note that payments for training delivery can only be made on receipt of a valid lodgement.

Will the Department take into account the impact of COVID-19 when auditing and/or reviewing an RTO's contractual performance?

Yes. When auditing, there will be an expectation that RTOs will still have evidence of training and/or assessments, in line with Attachment B of the 2020 business rules, and that the required fees and charges are adhered to. Consideration will also be given when examining other contractual obligations.

When reviewing contractual performance, the Department will be mindful of the impact relating to UoC/qualification commencements, withdrawals and completions.

Where a qualification has a mandatory work placement requirement, and employers are either not considering students for work placement or not allowing existing students to continue their work placement, what do I do?

If the student has not commenced all the required units of the qualification, you could consider commencing these while continuing to explore work placement opportunities.

Notifications posted by the regulators have indicated that RTOs could consider alternative arrangements to meet workplace requirements mandated within specific qualifications. Contact your regulator to discuss, if you are considering alternative arrangements. 

Enterprise Training Program: What if an employer requests current training be scaled back or suspended, and future scheduled training be delayed?

Contact your case manager to discuss the situation. There is an opportunity to request an extension to the commencement and completion dates of the approved training programs.

1585391819

Useful resources and links

1585196092
Page last updated January 13, 2020