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Image: AAP/Benedicte Desrus

Are Australian schools opened or closed for term two?

As it stands, whether or not schools are open depends on a number of variables.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison opposed school closures throughout March on the basis that having children out of schools may lead to an opportunity to engage with the broader community and therefore increase the risk of COVID-19 transmissions.

Morrison also highlighted the potential disruption this could have on children’s education, as well as risking “the availability of critical workers such as nurses and doctors and others who are essential in the community because they would have to remain home and look after their children”.

On April 16, that National Cabinet stated that while education would be best delivered in a classroom, it was up to the discretion of the education systems per state.

Here is a state-by-state breakdown on the current situation with schools and whether they will be open or closed during term two.


Are schools opened or closed for term two?

Victoria

Public schools in Victoria have moved to remote and flexible learning for term two. This means that from April 15, all students who can learn from home have been asked to remain at home.

The only students who will be invited to attend schools will be those who have parents who cannot work from home, and students who have been classified as vulnerable and do not have a safe or suitable learning environment.

Students will be provided with internet access and laptops if they require them. Parents have been reassured that sending their children to school if they need to is safe, but that a mix of onsite and offsite learning is the best approach for term two. Chief Medical Officer Brett Sutton says parents will be notified as officials continuously asses the risk of sending all children back to school.

Term two is running from April 14-June 26, 2020, and school holidays will run from June 27-July 12.

New South Wales

The NSW government advises that while schools will be open for students who need to attend, students who can learn from home should remain at home. It is noted on the NSW government website that “schools will be open and operational for students that need to attend but where practical, parents are encouraged to keep their children at home”.

From May 11, students will be asked to attend their schools one day per week as part of the phased operating model to reintroduce face-to-face learning.

As it stands, the NSW government says “no child will be turned away” should they need to physically attend school.

Term two is running from April 27-May 8, with the slow reintroduction back to school to commence on May 11.

Queensland

According to the Queensland government, “schools and community kindergartens will move to a home-based learning model from April 20 until at least May 22, 2020.”

Parents are urged to continue learning from home unless they are essential workers. Vulnerable students are invited to continue coming to school.

The home-based learning model will continue to be implemented for at least the first five weeks of term two, and progress will then be assessed on May 15 and parents will be updated.

Term two is running from April 20-June 26. A review will commence on May 15.

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT government says the ACT Education Directorate, along with schools, “will begin to look at how and when we can transition back to face-to-face learning”, now that term two has commenced, however, “at this stage, we don’t know when this transition will happen”.

Children of essential workers or parents who cannot work remotely will be offered supervision from teachers at nine designated public school sites.

Term two is running from April 28-July 3. There is no set date for when learning from home will be reviewed.

South Australia

South Australia schools have reopened amid recommendations from health officials that there is a low risk of coronavirus transmission among pupils. This news follows technical issues and the subsequent crash on remote learning materials released by the government’s online learning platform.

Parents and carers are currently being urged to send their children back to school. The Canberra Times reports there has been a 60% attendance rate from pupils, up from 30% before the school holidays just passed.

At this time, parents who do not want to send their children back to school have the option to continue remote learning, with materials to be provided by schools.

Term two is running from April 28–July 3.

Western Australia

Western Australia schools have reopened and all parents and carers are urged to send their children back to school, especially year 11 and 12 students. According to the state government website, “parents have been given a choice about whether their children return to school for face-to-face teaching or learn from home. This is a personal decision influenced by each family’s circumstances.”

At this point, the decision to send children back to school is still at the discretion of parents and carers, who are asked to drop their children at the school gates and not enter the property.

Term two is running from April 29July 3.

Tasmania

The Tasmanian government says, “the intention for Term Two is for students to continue to learn at home where possible, with teachers leading this learning”.

At this point, learning from home remains the same as before the holidays. Children of parents or carers who cannot learn remotely will be allowed to attend school.

These arrangements will be reviewed regularly and parents will be notified of any updates.

Term two is running from April 28July 3.

Northern Territory

As of April 20, all students are expected to physically attend school unless they are unwell.

Residential boarding facilities will remain closed to students for the time being.

According to the Northern Territory government, schools will:

  • continue to practice and promote good hygiene, including implementing routine handwashing by all children and staff members, before and after class and before and after meal breaks
  • consider moving classes outside, separating into smaller groups and/ or spreading into larger indoor spaces where possible
  • encourage the avoidance of handshaking, hugging and kissing, or games that include holding hands or other physical contact
  • reconsider school excursions, assemblies and other events.

Term two is running from April 20June 26.


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