ACT and NSW break lockstep over education

Dominic Giannini 17 April 2020 137
Yvette Berry

Education Minister Yvette Berry said the ACT will continue to implement its plan for students to learn remotely for term two. Photo: Region Media.

Having worked in lockstep since COVID-19 hit, the ACT has now broken ranks with NSW over school attendance.

ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry confirmed Territory schools will proceed with their online teaching arrangements for term two while NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she wants schools to incorporate more face-to-face learning from week three of the school term.

Ms Berejiklian has also floated the idea of a rostering system to stagger a return to schools.

“The ACT Government’s advice to our school communities is to pay attention to what is happening in the ACT,” Ms Berry said.

“We have a plan that we can deliver remote education for the whole of term two.

“If we need to pull that back because the situation changes and we need to have more students attending school then we will do that, but we will do that in a planned way based on the advice we receive.”

ACT public schools will move to virtual classrooms for term two – which starts on 28 April – but children who cannot work from home have been guaranteed face-to-face learning as no student will be turned away from a school, the Education Directorate said.

“For parents and carers who cannot keep their children at home, due to work or additional needs, the ACT Government will provide supervision at a reduced number of public school sites for these students to continue to be provided with support,” a department spokesperson said.

“Students at these sites will be supervised by Out of School Hours Care staff supported by teaching staff, and allied health and support staff. Students at these sites will be undertaking the same remote learning program as their peers at home.”

Ms Berry says the rolling out of Chromebook laptops will help facilitate the move to online learning as the ACT’s plan to move to remote education was already in motion and has put the territory in a more advanced position than its state neighbour.

“We are an island in the middle of a bigger state, but in the ACT we were also much better prepared to deliver [online learning] because of the geographic locations of our schools, the smaller size of our population and because we were digitally ready to deliver remote education before we needed to,” she said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged schools to remain open, telling concerned parents that the risk of students acquiring COVID-19 is low, and that teachers are more at risk in the staff room than with their pupils.

Although the advice is that at-risk students or teachers should remain home, he said.

Mr Barr said the ACT’s movements are consistent with these principles.

“The ACT response is entirely consistent with the national principles and we will continue the roll-out our education program for term two exactly as we have announced, and that has the capacity to scale up should there be an increase in students that need to attend ACT public schools,” he said.

“We will also continue our medium-term work to look at what term three and the rest of the year will look like with the ability to respond to a changed public-health environment.

“Were we in a position in four weeks’ time to be loosening public health restrictions, then that may well have a consequential flow-on into the education sector but that is a decision that is some weeks away.”

There will be no immediate change to how schooling will be delivered from the end of April as the current lockdown measures in place in the ACT will be kept in place for at least another month, in line with the National Cabinet recommendations.

However, the ACT will continue to monitor advice and work with the relevant experts to inform its decision-making processes, Ms Berry said.

“I think we have to take each day as it comes, and sometimes each hour. The situation changes so fast and so the ACT Government is making sure that it moves quickly when it needs to,” she said.

“Moving education back into schools will take some time and we will take all the time we need to make sure that this happens in the least disruptive way.

“We will need some time to make sure that all the support is there for families, students, and particularly teachers.”

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137 Responses to ACT and NSW break lockstep over education
Star Fox Star Fox 12:01 pm 19 Apr 20

I’m fine with this but if you don’t agree just send your kids to school. Once the schools start filling up the teachers will have to return.

Ben Medway Ben Medway 1:59 am 19 Apr 20

I may be wrong here but I know where my kids go to high school and college the option to send your kid to school is still available of required? They have asked and requested if possible kids should stay at home but it's not mandatory and there is staff at school for that reason?

Lorraine Marsh Lorraine Marsh 11:12 pm 18 Apr 20

Mabye they could think of opening the schools for year 10 and 12 students to help students before opening the schools for all other students.

Ken Mansell Ken Mansell 1:37 pm 18 Apr 20

New update 18/4… Just the facts to help the discussion…

Down to to 12 COVID-19 infectious people in the ACT as 7 more recovered totally in the last 24 hours. ACT will probably be in single figures tomorrow or Monday. Only 1 of the remaining 12 COVID-19 infectious people in hospital. By next Friday we are estimated to be down to just 1 and Monday week zero. Only 1 new case in the last 9 days. 12 days of random testing by ACT Health now and no case found this way.

Across Southern NSW the same is happening. There have also been no new COVID-19 diagnoses in the surrounding Southern NSW and Murrumbidgee Local Health Districts for a week or more and the total of those in these areas who were still infectious was 19 four days ago, so they will probably get to zero just before the ACT.

Jessie Berham Jessie Berham 8:47 am 18 Apr 20

Rochelle looks like it won’t be week 3

Jodette Kotz Jodette Kotz 8:01 am 18 Apr 20

Very hard to school a year 10 and year 12 at home. Given the low rate of infection in the ACT, surely we could let some kids go back

    Alison Manders Alison Manders 12:27 am 20 Apr 20

    Jodette Kotz you don’t need to school them. I have a Year 8 and a Year 11 who have to school themselves as hubby and I are both essential. They are doing fine with expert guidance from their public school teachers. 😉

    Jodette Kotz Jodette Kotz 1:09 pm 20 Apr 20

    Alison Manders Lucky you. I'm sure the teachers are doing the best they can, but not all courses are suited to home schooling. And some are quite important in yr 12

Bec Williams Bec Williams 7:41 am 18 Apr 20

Border town parent life Chris.

Kristen Booker Kristen Booker 7:23 am 18 Apr 20

Great to have some consistency for the term. Home learning has its own challenges but I'm relieved to know we're not going to be chopping and changing, and that our community will be that much closer to eliminating the virus. Also, ACT teachers are amazing 😍.

Acton Acton 7:06 am 18 Apr 20

The risk is minimal and manageable. Common sense must prevail over ACT Govt paranoia. Send the kids back to school.

Jamie Rossiter Jamie Rossiter 7:04 am 18 Apr 20

Teresa Muccilli such confusing messaging, hey?

Cassandra Russell Cassandra Russell 11:35 pm 17 Apr 20

I hope after all the dust settles people remember how hard it is to keep just one or two kids focused in their own homes and appreciate what an amazing job our teachers do. Their 'holidays' are spent prepping for the next term. They give so much but aren't paid appropriately and so often aren't respected as they deserve to be.

Rachel Gannis Rachel Gannis 10:56 pm 17 Apr 20

No one has considered the effect on parents. Those of us who are working full time and have multiple kids are also expected to teach/oversight their children. How do you fit all of this in each day. When you have kids in critical years this is enormous pressure. I think let’s see how this virus is tracking and if the ACT continues in the direction it’s currently heading and the medical advice supports let’s open schools at some stage in term 2 for everyone’s sanity.

    Scott Pinnegar Scott Pinnegar 7:33 am 18 Apr 20

    Rachel Gannis 100% also.

    Nell Feneck Nell Feneck 8:05 am 18 Apr 20

    Rachel Gannis I thought the whole point of having kids was to parent them - good times and bad....

    Nikki Horner Nikki Horner 8:23 am 18 Apr 20

    Nell Feneck part of parenting means providing for them.

    Geoff Dibley Geoff Dibley 8:44 am 18 Apr 20

    200% agree

    Adrian Walker Adrian Walker 8:48 am 18 Apr 20

    Rachel read the whole article. There is a plan for your circumstances

    Deaks Lewis Deaks Lewis 12:25 pm 18 Apr 20

    Add the cost of a private school education that they aren't receiving to that. Ouch.

    AbbDon Helen AbbDon Helen 3:29 pm 18 Apr 20

    Deaks Lewis ... which private school are you referring to ... have you checked your facts?

    Deaks Lewis Deaks Lewis 3:30 pm 18 Apr 20

    AbbDon Helen ummmmmm yeah... i pay the bloody fees, pretty sure my facts are correct.

    AbbDon Helen AbbDon Helen 3:33 pm 18 Apr 20

    Deaks Lewis still interested which school ... if you are not getting what you pay for take it up with your principal .. schools are all supposed to be providing online learning 🙀

    Deaks Lewis Deaks Lewis 3:43 pm 18 Apr 20

    AbbDon Helen they are mate but im still paying full rate to teach my own kids.

    AbbDon Helen AbbDon Helen 3:52 pm 18 Apr 20

    Deaks Lewis good luck with it all ...hope you can get some relief via funding options 🙏

    Christiaan Groot Christiaan Groot 10:10 am 07 May 20

    Rachel Gannis I agree the lives of parents are being trashed for the sake of politics.

Sashika Mendis Sashika Mendis 10:51 pm 17 Apr 20

Thank you Andrew Barr! I’m happy my children will be safe at home. Their safety is paramount!

Monica Millgate Monica Millgate 10:46 pm 17 Apr 20

Amazing considering the higher number of cases in NSW.

Robyn Holder Robyn Holder 10:34 pm 17 Apr 20

Teachers have put in a huge amount of effort to make their courses work online so that everyone can stay safe at home. Morrison and Berejeklian want to bin that for some reason potentially exposing school staff and students to COVID-19. Thanks ACT govt for sticking to the plan.

    Kylie Hynes Kylie Hynes 3:25 am 19 Apr 20

    Yep teacher, principals and support staff are just a number, may as well call them sacrificial lambs

    Robyn Holder Robyn Holder 8:22 pm 19 Apr 20

    Kylie Hynes in the long run not just staff. If one child at a school is infected before long every child could be. In Canberra it is less likely but states like NSW with community transmission even if not widespread over the state there coild be a sudden big jump again. Economy over safety 😡

    Kylie Hynes Kylie Hynes 8:24 pm 19 Apr 20

    Robyn Holder totally agree Robyn

Cass Andra Cass Andra 10:13 pm 17 Apr 20

Great decision . I know it’s easy to feel a bit complacent because numbers have stabilised but we just need to look at numbers overseas and realise how lucky we are and to keep working to keep our infection rates low .

If schools go back too soon the virus could start spreading exponentially within our community ..

Let’s not forget that we are moving into our winter as well .

Stay safe everyone

Jill Lyall Jill Lyall 10:08 pm 17 Apr 20

To all those people asking why and disagreeing that this is a good idea in the ACT I ask you to consider this: Schools go back to "normal" and with crowds of students in the one space. Teachers are told to enforce strict social distancing and hygiene but it is impossible with so many children. A child carries the virus but has no symptoms. The virus spreads to other children at the school and to teachers. The other kids go home to their families where it spreads to family members and out into the community. The teachers go home and spread it to family and community. Some teachers die because they are have underlying health problems.

A school with crowds of kids and teachers is no different to a cruise ship. It will be a hot spot for the virus and the virus will spread out into the community. Do you want to have dozens of Ruby Princess scenarios through the suburbs of Canberra? We have neither a vaccine nor a anti-viral drug yet to mitigate against the highly contagious nature of this virus. It doesn't only kill people who are older if you are comfortable with killing older people - it kills people in all age groups, including some children.

Is it worth the risk because some people are obsessed with the idea of children being at school?

    Heidi Kark Heidi Kark 10:21 pm 17 Apr 20

    Jill Lyall Yes! The perfect analogy 👏🏼

    Alison Manders Alison Manders 12:23 am 20 Apr 20

    Jill Lyall this exact thing led to the largest infection vector in New Zealand. 😕

Emma Hannan Emma Hannan 10:01 pm 17 Apr 20

Isn't it all about safety first, we have the ability to do online or remote learning, and should be thinking of our kids and our and the teachers safety first. Good job Act for making the right call. At least for the younger age groups, they don't do social distancing and within a day you then have a child who has just touched every surface and friend in every classroom throughout their school, putting at risk their teachers, parents, friends and anyone else they come into contact with. It does not make any sense to back down on this until we are much safer within our country.

Marilyn Roberts Marilyn Roberts 9:50 pm 17 Apr 20

That is just ridiculous. Honestly why????

Nick James Nick James 9:06 pm 17 Apr 20

NSW has more private sector employees I guess, who can't work from home like the PS

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