14 May 2020

While students were away, tradies were hard at work at ACT schools

| Michael Weaver
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Yvette Berry

ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry said many public schools have been upgraded while students and teachers have been away. Photo: File.

When the first students return to ACT schools next week, they may see some upgrades as part of a works package of more than 80 projects worth $5.15 million.

Minister for Education Yvette Berry will also ensure schools have plentiful supplies of hand sanitiser, soap and toilet paper when students commence their staggered return to face-to-face learning next Monday.

“Yes, there will be enough hand sanitiser, soap tissues and toilet paper,” Ms Berry assured Canberra parents today (13 May).

“Given that we’re going to be in this for a while and we’re going to need a lot of these products available all of the time, the Education Directorate will be procuring all of those items and ensure that they’re provided to each school.

“When students start returning to school from the 18th of May, they’ll start seeing some significant improvements to their school that we’ve been able to do while teachers have been delivering education from home.”

Students in kindergarten and years 1, 2, 7, 11 and 12 will return to face-to-face learning on Monday, while the students in years 3, 4 and 10 will return on 25 May. All students will be back in the classroom from 2 June, with years 5, 6, 8 and 9 the last to return.

The works are part of the ACT Government’s $85 million 2016 election commitment to upgrade ACT schools. Some of the projects have been brought forward given the window of opportunity presented by the coronavirus lockdown. Schools were asked to identify their priority areas and if they were ready to have the work done straight away.

The work has provided a boon for Canberra tradies, such as the project manager from Colda Constructions Adam Giugni who will have about 25 people from 10 different trades working on a project at Wanniassa High School.

Wanniassa’s senior school campus will get upgrades to the humanities, social science and English classrooms to make them more energy-efficient and better connected for technology-based learning.

The school will also receive new lighting and carpets, new furnishings and furniture, a fresh coat of paint, and will be reconfigured to accommodate a new staff area.

The campus will also receive a $2 million roof upgrade as part of the ACT Government’s roof replacement program.

See Wanniassa Differently

The senior campus at Wanniassa School is one of several schools to receive an upgrade. Photo: File

Ms Berry said this work is in addition to the infrastructure upgrades that were ready for term one this year. The term one upgrades included the addition of three new classrooms, a quiet space and staff room for small group programs, an additional office and a print-room for teachers. The school’s library has also been refurbished, as has a drop-in centre where students can have a free breakfast and lunch.

“As the construction industry accounts for almost 6 per cent of the ACT’s workforce, ensuring we can continue to employ workers in the construction industry with projects like this will be hugely important for the Territory’s economic recovery.

“Approximately 60 local contractors and businesses have been engaged to undertake the works. To date, there has been a headcount of 402 contractors recorded over the various sites.

“Projects across our public schools focus on sustainability measures, creating modern learning spaces and smaller works that will assist with school operations,” Ms Berry said.

Some of these projects include:

  • An upgrade to the Duffy Primary School oval including an irrigation system and new turf
  • A multi-sport and multi-purpose play surface with cross and circuit fitness at the Woden School
  • Upgrades to classrooms at Florey Primary School
  • An upgrade of the garden area adjacent to the basketball court at Charnwood Dunlop Primary School
  • A new fence for the pre-school area at Gordon Primary School
  • Swipe cards at Black Mountain School to improve safety for students and staff
  • A new coat of external paint at Gold Creek School.

The works are expected to continue into the second and third terms of school with measures in place to ensure social distancing is adhered to.

“There has been a lot of planning and everybody has been working really hard to welcome students back to school. I have complete confidence in our teaching community and all of our school staff to provide a seamless as possible return to school,” Ms Berry said.

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