The Education Department has been forced to close 62 schools tomorrow because of the strike by teachers and school support staff.
Director-general Sharyn O’Neill told Radio 6PR earlier today she had given 54 schools permission to close for the morning because they would not have enough staff to provide adequate supervision.
But by this afternoon that number had increased.
Earlier today she said letters would be sent home to parents this afternoon.
She believed most schools would re-open in the afternoon.
“Our number one over-riding piece of advice to parents is to keep in contact with your school if you’re uncertain,” she said. “We’ll also have a website that we will update later this afternoon.”
The State Government will dock the pay of teachers and other staff attending the stop-work meeting after Premier Colin Barnett declared the industrial action could not be justified.
The State School Teachers Union, United Voice and the Community and Public Sector Union have joined forces for a half-day strike to protest Government changes to school funding.
In State Parliament yesterday, Mr Barnett attempted to frame the argument as a dispute over wages and conditions.
Responding to a question about the $600-per-teacher long-leave liability levy that schools are required to pay under the new arrangements, Mr Barnett said WA public teachers had the best pay and conditions in the nation.
"This is a strike for the sake of having a strike," Mr Barnett said.
"What are they striking over? They are the best paid teachers in Australia. It will cause distress to parents and so many parents will be angry if they go on strike. They will be fearful for the care of their children."
Education Minister Peter Collier said staff would not be paid for any period of absence because of industrial action tomorrow, in accordance with the Government's industrial action policy, but it did not intend to take the matter to the WA Industrial Relations Commission.
"The Department of Education has informed principals of this policy and principals will be required to advise the department of staff who take industrial action," Mr Collier said.
SSTU president Anne Gisborne said teachers were fighting for "the proper level resourcing for our schools", not pay and conditions.
"We're not striking about our pay, so I'm not sure why he (Mr Barnett) is talking about that," she said. "He's obviously missed the point."
Education Department director-general Sharyn O'Neill said some schools might be forced to close tomorrow.
"While at this stage it is too early to speculate on the numbers of staff involved, it is possible that I may have to endorse the closure of some schools if they cannot provide adequate supervision for students," she said.Ms O'Neill said she expected principals to make every effort to keep schools open. The department urged parents unsure about the impact of the strike on their child's school to contact that school to find out what specific arrangements it was making.