Life Education Coronavirus shutdown of NSW schools to be lifted

Coronavirus shutdown of NSW schools to be lifted

nsw coronavirus schools open
NSW says students will return to its schools under a staged management plan from mid-May. Photo: Getty
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Students in NSW will return to school within weeks, with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announcing a managed reopening from May 11.

Children will return to campuses across the state one day a week from the third week of term two.

“Then progressively two days, and then we hope by the end of term two we’ll be in a position to have students going back to school in a full-time capacity by term three,” Ms Berejiklian said on Tuesday.

She said public, Catholic and independent schools were all on board with the plan.

NSW schools remain open amid the coronavirus pandemic but students are recommended to learn from home.

As restrictions begin to be eased, only a quarter of students will initially be on campus at one time.

“Will it be the same as kids going to school under normal circumstances? No, it won’t,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“We’ve made sure we’ve used this time not just to build up our online capacity but we’ve also made sure we have enough hand sanitisers, soap, and all those things which make a school community feel safe.”

Schools will be able to check students’ temperatures, while cleaning protocols will be increased.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said she wanted to begin with the gradual return.

“There will be flexibility and discretion on a school level as to how they implement this,” she said.

“We want them to make sure they are having about a quarter of students on campus each day, but how they break that group up will be a matter for them.”

The government said families with multiple siblings should be helped where possible, and has suggested organising students by house colours, or alphabetically.

Ms Mitchell said school drop-offs and pick-ups would be staggered, as would lunch breaks and recesses.

It came as NSW reported further low numbers of fresh coronavirus infections. Health authorities confirmed six new cases on Tuesday morning, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 2969.

NSW is the second state to announce a managed return to school amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan said on Friday that state’s schools would have a “soft opening” from April 29.

“If parents don’t feel comfortable sending their kids to school for whatever reason, they will not be obligated to do so,” he said.

“However year 11 and 12 students are strongly encouraged to attend.”

There will arrangements for children who need to learn online, and for those with complex medical needs.

Meanwhile, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews remains committed to keeping that state’s schools closed throughout term two, which is in its second week there. On Monday he said he didn’t want 100,000 parents doing pick-ups and drop offs.

“It’s perfectly fine to send your kinds to school if you can’t have them learning from home, but if you can have the kids learning from home they must learn from home.”

Queensland has also ruled out reopening schools before mid-May.

There will be no change prior to a mid-term review of when it would be safe for students to return amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

“They (NSW) are in a different situation to us,” Ms Palaszczuk said on Tuesday.

“It would be irresponsible of me to fully open our schools when social distancing can’t be practised or worked out.

“We are reviewing that in May, halfway through the school term … and we’ll see how we are going with case numbers.”

“NSW is gradually bringing it back and that is exactly what I am looking at in a month’s time.”

Queensland classrooms are open but only for the children of essential workers.

It has left the rest of students to learn from home through an online portal that allows pupils to learn remotely under adult supervision.

The system crashed on the first day of term two on Monday after being smashed with 1.8 million hits in 30 minutes.

It was back up and running without problems on Tuesday, Education Minister Grace Grace said.

She said the government anticipated teething problems and that the server crumbled under the web traffic.

“Overnight we have worked on resolving issues from yesterday that previous testing did not identify,” she said.

-with agencies