16 March 2022

Queanbeyan High School backflips on controversial decision to move to part-time in-person learning

| Max O'Driscoll
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Queanbeyan High School

All Queanbeyan High School students will return to full-time in-person learning. Photo: Queanbeyan High School.

Queanbeyan High School has backflipped on its decision to move to part-time on-campus learning in years 7 to 10 starting today (16 March).

Parents and carers of Queanbeyan High School students received a letter from Principal Jennifer Green on Monday night (14 March) advising them that years 7 to 10 were moving to “flexible learning”, which would see them attend in-person three days a week. The letter said the decision was a result of several staffing absences caused by COVID-19, in addition to the school’s inability to fill permanent positions.

A day after the school was deemed unable to deliver in-person learning five days a week, it released a statement at 7:10 pm last night revealing the school would “resuming operations for all year groups”.

“The school will operate as many scheduled classes as possible and provide minimal supervision where this is not possible,” the letter read.

“We thank you for your continued support of staff who are working tirelessly to provide quality education and supervision for all students.”

READ MORE Confusion reigns as Queanbeyan High School students told to stay home two days a week due to teacher shortage

In response to the original letter, Member for Monaro Nichole Overall told Region Media that the advice to parents and carers from the school was inaccurate.

She also declared that keeping the school open full-time to all students was especially important due to the interruptions caused by the pandemic so far.

“The disruption our young people have faced, particularly in those school environments, we need everything back on track,” Ms Overall said.

“That’s precisely what the Department of Education and I are committed to seeing happen.”

Yesterday, NSW Shadow Minister for Education Prue Car described the NSW Government’s response to the teacher shortage as “vastly inadequate”. While pleased the decision has been reversed, today she said it should act as a warning if current trends continue.

“Families will be relieved to hear students will be able to attend school full-time again, but it should not have come to this in the first place. The NSW Government has had years of warnings about teacher shortages and months to prepare for the impacts of easing COVID restrictions,” Ms Car said.

“This disruption is frustrating for local families and it will be seen at more and more schools while the NSW Liberal Government neglects to recruit the teachers local schools need.”

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Online comments discussing the news appeared less supportive of the decision.

One commenter wondered what had changed in just a day, while another described it as a “very quick backflip” and joked that they “may have whiplash”.

One put forward that there were between 10 to 20 teachers absent every day and seven unfilled vacancies at the school. They also suggested that the likely solution would be to put multiple classes at once into the quadrangle with no teaching and questioned how NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell could consider that could be a better option.

Queanbeyan High School was approached for comment.

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A backflip is a change of mind by those that made the decision in the first place. This was an order from the Parrothead government and in no way can it be called a backflip.

Hopefully that same government is doing all it can to find relief teachers. Somehow I doubt this.

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