Back to school: Government announces staged return for students

Ian Bushnell 7 May 2020 86
Education Minister Yvette Berry

Education Minister Yvette Berry: ”If this situation changes again and an increase in new cases of the virus arises, the government remains ready to respond sensibly.” Photo: File.

ACT public school students will begin a staged return to the classroom from 18 May, but large gatherings such as assemblies will be banned and teachers and other adults will need to adhere to social distancing measures to prevent the potential transmission of COVID-19.

The decision to go back to face-to-face teaching comes after only two weeks of remote learning, on the advice of the Chief Health Officer and after consultation with school leaders, the teachers union and peak parents body.

It also comes after intense pressure from the Federal Government, echoed in the ACT by the Canberra Liberals, arguing the health advice was that children were less likely to contract or transmit the virus, and that it was safe to reopen schools.

But the ACT Government had always said the situation would be monitored in the first weeks of term and students would return to the classroom if circumstances changed.

As restrictions ease nationally and the containment measures work better than expected in the ACT, which has no current cases of COVID-19, it was always likely that face-to-face learning would resume by Week 4.

The first students to return will be those considered to be in the most critical learning years – preschool, kindergarten, and Years 1 and 2; the first year of high school Year 7; and the college years of 11 and 12, which will continue with a mix of remote and on-campus teaching.

To support teachers to return to schools, children of teachers may also attend their usual school.

They will be followed on 25 May by Years 3, 4 and 10, and then finally on Tuesday 2 June after the long weekend by Years 5, 6, 8 and 9.

By the start of Week 7 all students and teachers, except for those with compromised immune systems, should be back on site.

The nine safe, supervised sites or hub schools will cease operation on Friday 15 May and the following Monday all ACT public school sites will be operating normally, so children who have not been able to study at home, can attend their regular school.

Registrations for the hubs will close on Sunday 10 May but the Education Directorate will continue to process all registrations that have been received up until then.

In order to ensure schools remain safe environments, there will be more cleaning, and personal hygiene measures, such as hand washing, will be in place.

Extra spaces will be opened up for teachers so staff rooms can follow social distancing rules with limited numbers, and breaks will be staggered.

Students and anyone working at a school will also have ready access to COVID-19 testing if they show symptoms.

If anyone tests positive for the virus, the school will be shut down, cleaned, and contact tracing conducted, as was the case with Lyneham High.

Non-government schools, both Catholic and independent, will also be transitioning back to on-campus learning over the next month.

Education Minister Yvette Berry said the Canberra community had worked hard to contain the virus and the government would remain vigilant.

”If this situation changes again and an increase in new cases of the virus arises, the government remains ready to respond sensibly,” she said.

Ms Berry said parents and carers who could keep their children learning remotely until on-campus learning commences for their year group should continue to do so.

”We’re asking for your patience during this transition so that it is orderly and managed,” she said.

”Thank you to all the parents and carers who have been patient through this changing situation and for supporting your children through this time. I acknowledge that this has not been an easy experience.

”Thank you to our teachers, school staff and out of school hours care staff for your incredible work and going above and beyond to ensure students can access the best possible learning opportunity in extraordinary circumstances.”

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86 Responses to Back to school: Government announces staged return for students
Lyn Coles Lyn Coles 8:57 pm 08 May 20

Ros will not know what to do with her days!!!!!

Acton Acton 11:38 am 08 May 20

A report on the ABC says that researchers have found a link between Coronavirus and obesity. As two thirds of Australian adults are classified as obese, this may explain the bizarre fear of some people to the reopening of schools, despite expert medical opinion that it is safe. We can see now who are the really selfish ones in our community.

Mike Diy Mike Diy 8:40 am 08 May 20

I am a concerned parent and everyone need to know my opinion.

Ellie Angel-Mobbs Ellie Angel-Mobbs 6:45 am 08 May 20

Jason Manuel R one to touch on tomorrow

Julie Marshall Julie Marshall 12:34 am 08 May 20

Too early. No assemblies yet children play together. what are you gonna do to suggest kids keep there distance! Give kids Hulahoop‘s so children can keep there distances from each other at all times.

    Adam Smith Adam Smith 6:26 am 08 May 20

    Julie Marshall No it is about sitting in a confined crowded space for an hour in an assembly. In the playground you have open air and movement.

    My daughter is going complete stir crazy at home, she hasn't played with another kid in 7 weeks. She wants.and.needs to go back.

Mo Flow Mo Flow 11:25 pm 07 May 20

Only the 30 class gatheri gs plus teachers. K.....ya

Erika Olivier Erika Olivier 9:45 pm 07 May 20

Nope im not happy with this, id honestly rather my kid stay home the whole term rather than go back now knowing we could need to go back to homeschooling if there is another outbreak in the area.

    Erika Olivier Erika Olivier 8:50 am 08 May 20

    Anne O'Hara yeah i found that last night, definitely considering it. Only takes 1 person from interstate to make a second wave outbreak happen.

Cathy Beckhouse Cathy Beckhouse 9:29 pm 07 May 20

About time!

    Julie Szabo Julie Szabo 7:48 pm 08 May 20

    Cathy Beckhouse have a lovely weekend 🙋‍♀️⚘🥂👍

Julie Williams Julie Williams 9:19 pm 07 May 20

It's too early

Juz Hawke Juz Hawke 5:31 pm 07 May 20

Bring on 2nd June for my pair 👏🏻

Mia Ayasato Mia Ayasato 5:01 pm 07 May 20

Assemblies banned but kids will play in the playground - confusing

Kerri Hallas Kerri Hallas 2:59 pm 07 May 20

Just in time for the second wave... 😳

Deanne Perry Deanne Perry 1:24 pm 07 May 20

how do you feel about this Natasha Whiting?

    Natasha Whiting Natasha Whiting 1:28 pm 07 May 20

    Deanne Perry very worried. I really want my kids back in school, but the government needs to do this very carefully otherwise this could all blow up in our faces.

    Deanne Perry Deanne Perry 2:05 pm 07 May 20

    Natasha Whiting I understand completely - safety first always.

Annie Mills Annie Mills 1:10 pm 07 May 20

Welp, Alistair Coe just announced the pandemic is all over so everyone can go about their business.

Boweavil Kat Boweavil Kat 9:39 am 07 May 20

Bad decision. Schools should only be open for those that can’t work from home. If you can work from home then your children should be doing remote learning. Those that have to go to work, their children should be able to attend school. The ides is the have as few children at school as possible. This way it will be easier to manage social distancing and a better teacher student ratio.

    John Kouparitsas John Kouparitsas 5:59 pm 07 May 20

    Boweavil Kat not really working from home when you have to teach your kids.

    Boweavil Kat Boweavil Kat 8:47 pm 07 May 20

    John Kouparitsas well you’re not teaching your kids and you’re not being asked to teach your kids. all you are doing is supervising them which isn’t a hard ask

    Bec Msosi Bec Msosi 12:03 am 08 May 20

    Boweavil Kat actually this is not true, you can’t expect kids to do their class work with no assistance!!! Kids attending hubs aren’t getting any work done for the most part so us parents are having to keep them up late to ensure work in completed!!!

    Boweavil Kat Boweavil Kat 4:20 am 08 May 20

    Bec Msosi nobody is saying the kids will be left without assistant after all that is the point of remote learning

    Bec Msosi Bec Msosi 5:16 am 08 May 20

    Boweavil Kat it’s definitely not just supervising is what I’m saying especially when they are young, 30 minutes of teacher meetings and then they are tasked to work on their own, if you’re a parent working from home this is near impossible as they need one on one

    Boweavil Kat Boweavil Kat 7:56 am 08 May 20

    Bec Msosi they don't get one-on-one at school. The teacher may focus on one person from tile to time but as you know in classrooms of 40 student there is little or no one-on-one. The fact is if you have to lift your game and take some responsibility for your children. Remote learning has been around for a long time and a significant number of regional and rural children are educated remote, they stepped up and so can you.

    Bec Msosi Bec Msosi 8:09 am 08 May 20

    Boweavil Kat yeah i did step up, i've continued to work during this time... my job is to support special needs children with their learning and i've done exactly that... after work i have my daughter completing her school work that wasn't done at the school hub because the staff there weren't fussed if they did or not... my 8 year old has been up late every night so we can finish the workload that has been set so yes i have been taking responsibility for her learning, but going back to school is a great thing for everyone concerned... canberra has had minimal cases, and no community transmission, so definitely safe to return...

Kyla Sharp Kyla Sharp 9:15 am 07 May 20

Rea Ncube so I can go to school with over 2000 people but can’t have my close 5 friends over for my birthday

    Doug Walters Doug Walters 12:41 pm 07 May 20

    Precluding one helps offset the other. It's statistics and choices. you can let everyone do everything - 100% risk. You can ban everyone 0% risk. Or you can do things inbetween that increase risk in a sensible fashion.

    The opposite would be 'no schools but you can all have 5 friends over'. If we're not continuing with 0% risk, then decisions are made about the why and how of that. You won't get 0% and freedom of movement at the same time

    Kyla Sharp Kyla Sharp 12:46 pm 07 May 20

    Doug Walters so what still at school on an average day I come in contact with over 150 students plus the 5 teachers and also everyone who has sat in my seat before hand, but funeral still are restricted to 10 people. They already have schools open for the disadvantage and children who’s parents are working essential jobs and online schooling is going well

Steve Gannis Steve Gannis 8:38 am 07 May 20

About bloody time should of happened sooner don't know about the staggered approach though!!

Richard Handley Richard Handley 8:33 am 07 May 20

Imagine finding out information concerning your employment via social media before even being told from your boss or employer. Probably not the right way for school employees to find out.

    Narelle Ford Narelle Ford 3:34 pm 07 May 20

    Richard Handley Glenn Fowler let them union know via email this morning but I agree. The Directorate should have informed us.

Ken Mansell Ken Mansell 8:20 am 07 May 20

Monty, you are describing every chief medical officer of every state and territory and of NZ and Australia as “impatient imbeciles who do not understand what COVID19 is.” This is obviously not true. It’s a hard time for everyone and we all need the space to let off some steam but let’s not insult people like our amazing ACT Chief Health Officer who is doing an amazing job at keeping us safe. Stay safe

Trish McLaren Trish McLaren 8:17 am 07 May 20

What happens to the children of essential workers that need them in school, my granddaughter will need to go to school as her mother and I will both be working at the hospital.

    Alessandra Whiting Alessandra Whiting 8:25 am 07 May 20

    Trish McLaren they go to the hub this week and next then they go to there usual school from May 18. That’s what the article says.

    Trish McLaren Trish McLaren 8:26 am 07 May 20

    Alessandra Whiting thanks I didn’t read that bit.

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