Safe for schools to stay open in Term 2, say Liberals

Ian Bushnell 27 April 2020 156
Elizabeth Lee

Opposition education spokesperson Elizabeth Lee: no reason to close schools. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The Canberra Liberals have accused the ACT Government of sowing confusion over its plans for remote learning, saying parents should be able to send their children to school as usual from this week.

Its stance on schools came after Education Minister Yvette Berry sparked a social media storm with a Facebook post many thought meant that teachers would go back to face-to-face learning after four weeks of Term 2.

Opposition education spokesperson Elizabeth Lee said on Friday (24 April) that the post was typical of the mixed messaging from the government and that parents deserved more certainty.

She also affirmed that the Liberals opposed mandatory remote learning and the closure of all but nine school hubs, saying that all the health advice on COVID-19 and children meant it was safe for schools to operate as normal.

She said the advice from the Chief Medical Officer down was that schools could and should stay open.

ANU infectious diseases expert Professor Peter Collignon has been particularly vocal about schools, saying the evidence suggests it is uncommon for children under 15 years to get or spread COVID-19.

Ms Lee said there was no good reason why the vast majority of ACT schools should be completely closed for Term 2, and she was concerned about the welfare of children who need to be at school.

”Parents are concerned that they are going to be forcing their children to other schools that are unfamiliar to them, supervised by adults that are unfamiliar to them, and surrounded by peers that are unfamiliar to them,” she said.

Ms Lee said Ms Berry’s post had upset and confused parents.

“This is already an unprecedented and challenging time,” she said. ”We know that the levels of anxiety among parents, teachers and students are already sky high, and we want to ensure that this isn’t exacerbated by decisions made by the ACT Government that have not been transparent, consistent or clear.

”We need to ensure that parents have peace of mind to send their children to their regular school.”

She said parents of children with autism had still not been advised whether their children and their special needs would be catered for at the hubs.

Ms Lee believed that there were enough teachers who wanted to be back in the classroom, and vulnerable staff should be supported so they could work from home.

But the peak public schools parents body, the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations, has backed the government’s plans for remote learning in Term 2.

“Every family’s circumstances and challenges are different. Some of our members absolutely believe that schools should be open now; however, the majority of our members fully support social distancing – and that means the majority of students not attending school,” Council President Kirsty McGovern-Hooley said.

“Simply, while social distancing measures are in place elsewhere, parents don’t feel schools should be any different.”

She said many parents did not want to take the risk, and absences had increased towards the end of Term 1.

”Our schools are well set up to commence next week. But there are no perfect solutions in this crisis. Very few parents like or welcome remote learning from home, but still consider it a better option than potential exposure of themselves and families to COVID-19,” she said.

”As social distancing measures are lifted, we will step back to schools in a structured way that supports our students and families.”

Ms Berry said that the Directorate would be reviewing the situation over the next four weeks, and then deciding about when face-to-face learning could resume, giving parents plenty of notice.


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156 Responses to Safe for schools to stay open in Term 2, say Liberals
justme44 justme44 12:09 pm 01 May 20

The rest of us still have to work to be paid. I still have to go to work. If the teachers are only doing 50% of the work (ie no supervision provided for kids) then they should only get 50% of their pay.

My suggestion is give the extra cash to the teenagers working in the supermarkets on MINIMUM wages and in contact with different people all day. They did not sign up for this risk and deserve the cash more!!!

    Scarlett Slater Scarlett Slater 2:09 pm 01 May 20

    Hi, I’m literally a teenager working at Kmart and I literally think that is one of the most ridiculous comments. Although I see where you are coming from, all workers in places like Kmart, coles, etc have ALL been told if you aren’t comfortable working, you don’t have to. No one is being made to work so first of all your comment lacks so much logic considering that it seems like you are saying we are being forced to work. That is not the case at all
    Number 2, this coming from a daughter of a teacher and a student myself in year 11, one of the most important years of school, the fact you think teachers are only doing 50% work and should be paid 50% is ridiculous. Think about everything teachers are doing behind the scenes: re-arranging assessment tasks to fit with the new learning situation, re-arranging the way they teach so it suits online platforms, setting up so many creative ways to teach and give direction so kids can continue to learn and understand, if I’m being honest the list is continuous. Teachers are keeping your kids busy, they are continuing to help them and give support in some of the most challenging times we have ever seen. It’s ridiculous to think that teachers are ‘only doing 50% of the work’ when so many of them are genuinely working harder.

    justme44 justme44 3:30 pm 01 May 20

    So Kmart is paying people who are not coming to work?? Not in my neighbourhood. And yes I could refuse to turn up but I would have to take leave or not get paid.

    Scarlett Slater Scarlett Slater 6:50 pm 02 May 20

    i did not say, my words were ‘ all workers in places like Kmart, coles, etc have ALL been told if you aren’t comfortable working, you don’t have to’ when in that does it say they are still getting paid lol.

fbook fbook 4:44 pm 30 Apr 20

The remote learning is a con. I watched my granddaughter on a video call with her teacher. She was excited to tell him about all the things she had learned. He sounded like all he wanted to do was hang up.

Don’t expect teachers to give this up u until 2021.

Acton Acton 6:34 am 29 Apr 20

One conclusion is that teachers and education bureaucrats in the ACT are not so amazing, incredible, wonderful and dedicated as they keep on telling us. Judge them on what they do, or don’t do, not what they say.

    JC JC 1:39 pm 01 May 20

    I’m happy with my two children’s teacher. Yeah it’s not ideal but in the circumstances. . .

TatStan Rodoney TatStan Rodoney 12:33 am 29 Apr 20

The Term 2 position is home schooling until other states and territories, where our handlers own and operate. Then when THEY say they are ready to go there is a choice to send our kids to sit with 'random supervisors' outside of our regular catchment so our handlers are happy once again or we set down our tools until we have local employment that is in line with the term 2 schooling arrangements. Seems like a 50/50 debacle either way. Are we having fun yet?

Andrea Lloyd Andrea Lloyd 11:51 pm 28 Apr 20

Elizabeth Lee all the experts you refer to are paid by an LNP government and we know how reliable they are. Pull your head in and put the health of the children and teachers first! You won’t win any votes with this ridiculous idea!

Michael Hynes Michael Hynes 9:58 pm 28 Apr 20

Liberals following scientific advice? 😂 Accusing Labor of confusion? Which jobs are essential Scotty? Every job is essential! Remember that little tid bit of clear leadership? The real question for the liberals is, do Rupert and the mining industry want schools open? That's where they get most of their opinions from.

Kim Kim 4:30 pm 28 Apr 20

I remember you Mina. Epic wasn’t it? It’s not rocket science, Your children Mina go to a private schools. if public school parents need to send their children to school THE CHILD WILL NOT BE TURNED AWAY. The govt is constantly reviewing this policy, in consultation with the teachers union and its teachers, as it should be. The Liberals and Elizabeth Lee should be working with the govt, not against it.

Mina Zaki Mina Zaki 3:51 pm 28 Apr 20

If you want to keep your kids at home, that is absolutely fine, if teachers want to work from home, that is absolutely fine, but parents who need to send their children to school should not be disadvantaged by having to send them to the hubs. It may work for high school students or senior primary school students but it doesn’t work for younger students.

Open our schools for those who have to attend because their parents are essential workers + community service supervision (which is what’s happening at hubs) + a definite time limit eg all of term 2.

That’s not too much to ask for. We currently have:

9 hubs for maybe 4 weeks or longer.

Last week we were under the impression that we would be doing online learning until end of term 2 with supervision provided at children’s own schools.

If you’re not confused, you either don’t have young school ages children or you’re not an essential worker.

    Karen Feng Karen Feng 6:06 pm 28 Apr 20

    Mina Zaki That is a good point. the doctors and nurses and policeman or the people at supermarkets. 😳. They cant work from home and supervise their own kids.

Narelle Ford Narelle Ford 2:26 pm 28 Apr 20

Elizabeth Lee: ‘”Parents are concerned that they are going to be forcing their children to other schools that are unfamiliar to them, supervised by adults that are unfamiliar to them, and surrounded by peers that are unfamiliar to them,” she said.’

If kids can’t cope with this I worry about their ability to cope with life.

According to her words anyone with school age children shouldn’t be moving.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 12:43 am 29 Apr 20

    Absolutely. I attended different schools in five towns when I was a child. Children adapt, or as you say, their problems will get even bigger when they have to cope with life after school.

Kim Kim 1:32 pm 28 Apr 20

Very easy to snipe from the sidelines when you’re not making the tough decisions.

bikhet bikhet 1:24 pm 28 Apr 20

An article from The Economist that describes the effect on children of closing schools:

https://www.economist.com/international/2020/04/27/closing-schools-for-covid-19-does-lifelong-harm-and-widens-inequality

make of it what you will.

rsm1105 rsm1105 8:51 am 28 Apr 20

You absolutely can, and must, take an approach that differs according to relative risk.

Otherwise, is the prescription we all stay ‘safe’ in our homes for next two years?

I saw a research paper that asserted 37% of workforce can effectively work from home. I know in my workforce of hundreds it’s more like 5%.

Jay Kay Jay Kay 8:30 am 28 Apr 20

You can't maintain a dichtomy of closing down businesses and forcing remote working AND opening schools up, either its safe to do both, or its unsafe. Not one or the other

    chewy14 chewy14 11:30 am 28 Apr 20

    Not really sobering, you are talking about a handful of cases in children that mostly were already vulnerable due to other conditions. The numbers of children affected are still absolutely minuscule compared to older age groups.

    The UK alert basically just tells doctors to be aware of this extremely rare occurrence.

    Risk exists everywhere, you can’t just focus on one aspect as if it’s all that matters.

rsm1105 rsm1105 8:11 am 28 Apr 20

Actual epidemiologists and chief medical officers are saying it is safe.

Mac John Mac John 7:05 am 28 Apr 20

Hey you liberals: why are teachers so expendable?

Lynn Stape Lynn Stape 6:53 am 28 Apr 20

So what I get from this article is that the Liberals are not willing to try to work harmoniously with the Labor party during this time of crisis, for the good of the citizens, rather they simply wish to finger point and cause problems...well thats extremely helpful for all parents and makes things quite clear for them doesnt it....,,,,, well done on the WORKING TOGETHER FOR THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF ALL guys...

Acton Acton 6:52 am 28 Apr 20

Home schooling is disadvantaging our kids. Medical experts confirm it is safe to go back to school. Other schools around Australia are reopening. Children have a right to equitable education. Paranoia is not reality. Reopen schools now.

Ken Mansell Ken Mansell 6:41 am 28 Apr 20

New research shows that literacy and numeracy results set to slide by up to 16.7 per cent if students are kept at home for six months… like the last four studies showed as well

Bob Jones Bob Jones 5:17 am 28 Apr 20

Show how you feel! Sign the petition http://chng.it/Bscw7gfpkY

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