Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been told to keep out of the schooling debate after saying the education of children “hangs in the balance” on Wednesday.
Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates insists parents should not be worried about their school aged children missing out on some study amid the coronavirus crisis.
“I think nothing could be further from the truth,” Mr Bates told Nine’s Today show about Mr Morrison’s comments.
“Our young people will not suffer from a short period of hiatus around their learning,” Mr Bates said.
In a video on social media, Scott Morrison says “the education of our children hangs in the balance” as he urges teachers to help keep schools open. pic.twitter.com/eQ2nKV9hmc
— News Breakfast (@BreakfastNews) April 14, 2020
He also says young people aren’t expected to miss out on schooling because teachers are well prepared to deliver classes in a variety of ways.
The Prime Minister pleaded with teachers to keep classrooms open during the coronavirus pandemic, as states mull when to fully refill classrooms.
Mr Morrison said schools remaining open was important for the children who can’t learn at home, such as those whose parents are essential workers.
“We will lose many things in the course of fighting this virus,” the Prime Minister said in a social media video.
“One thing that I know teachers are united on, with their parents, is we do not want one of those things to be the loss of a child’s education, giving up a whole year of their learning.”
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk reckons parents should talk to their school principals about whether their kids should attend school next week.
She has urged the community for patience ahead of the new school term.
Ms Palaszczuk said each school is best able assess the needs of students, especially if parents are worried about homeschooling while they are working from home.
“They should talk to their principal about whether or not they can continue to supervise from home,” she said.
But Labor’s education spokesperson Tanya Plibersek hit out at the Prime Minster’s plea, saying he was contradicting state and territory leaders.
“Parents just want clear information. So do teachers. This mess must be cleaned up immediately,” she said on Wednesday.
In Queensland, where school resumes on Monday, an exam has been axed from the Year 12 curriculum because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Education Minister Grace Grace says that instead of Year 12 students having four exams, they will now only have three in 2020.
And for parents supervising their children just two to three hours of learning each day will usually be enough, Ms Grace has told The Courier-Mail.
During a Facebook Live session on Tuesday afternoon Ms Grace told Year 12 students “Good news! You are only doing three exams this year”.
“One has been eliminated, two internal – one has already been done – so one more internal and then you’ll have an external exam…We want to make sure that there is no Year 13.”
Schools, kindergartens and childcare centres will remain open for vulnerable students and children of essential workers when term two begins.
Ms Grace also clarified the definition of an essential worker.
“If you are required in your workplace and unable to supervise your children at home or make suitable arrangements, then you are deemed to be an essential worker,” she said.
Remote learning is locked in until May 22 although a decision on it whether is extended will be made by May 15.
Meanwhile, learning packs are being sent to students across the state, with the minister saying teachers will be in contact with parents and carers while the tests and instructional papers will be delivered to households so they can learn remotely.
“If you are struggling please contact the school and let them know where you are struggling and what the issues are,” she said.
Staff at schools and childcare centres are now on the list of those who can be tested for COVID-19.
An additional 11 COVID-19 cases have been recorded across the state overnight bringing the total to 998 cases.
Five Queenslanders have died from coronavirus while 442 patients have recovered.
Although the rate of infection has dropped, public gathering restrictions will remain.
The government also announced on Tuesday a $28 million COVID-19 mental health fund for those who are becoming increasingly vulnerable during the current health crisis.