This paper examines school management and policies in Germany and Australia during the Covid-19 pandemic. The study, which is comparative and qualitative, explores the interrelationship between different levels of governance and the responses of teacher unions. The inquiry is informed by the perspectives of historical institutionalism and path dependency, and the document analysis is conducted by utilising the justification categories of value, collective, and formal and procedural driven arguments. We argue the contestation which occurred between different levels of school governance and the teacher unions amidst the pandemic created the potential for changes in policy settings and influence over the administration of schooling. However, there is no indication of fundamental shifts in the organisation, policy direction or control over schooling in Germany or Australia. Instead, there is a conformity to established institutional arrangements and path dependencies, which secure and protect the vested interests of the different policy actors.