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Friday, May 14, 2021

ACT Government planning student return to classrooms

The ACT Government will spend the next four weeks developing a plan to transition Territory public school students returning to classrooms, while remote learning for Term 2 will proceed as planned.

ACT Minister for Education Yvette Berry said in a statement on Facebook last night (23 April) that four weeks ago the ACT Education Directorate were planning remote delivery of education for the long haul.

“We asked our teachers to change our education in a couple of weeks. Something that would normally take many years. We were prepared. And we cannot thank them enough.

“We are going to ask teachers and school staff to change again. Over the next four weeks, the Government will take time to work with schools, P&Cs, unions and non-government schools to develop a plan to transition back to face-to-face education.

“We will give schools, teachers and parents plenty of notice before school transitions back,” she said.

Ms Berry said she does not currently have a timeframe for when ACT public school students will return to classrooms.

Her remarks come in response to the success so far achieved by current distancing measures in slowing and reversing the growth of COVID-19 cases nationally.

Consistent public health advice from the Commonwealth Government has said face-to-face learning in schools is safe for children.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison today said adhering to the venue density rule of one person per four square metres is not “appropriate or practical in classrooms or corridors, nor maintaining 1.5 metre between students during classroom activities”.

ACT Shadow Minister for Education Elizabeth Lee MLA echoed the Commonwealth’s advice today, saying parents “should be able to send their children to their regular school if they want to”.

“The advice consistently provided by the experts, including publicly advocated by the Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Officer and the Australian Medical Association throughout the pandemic has been that our schools are safe and they should be open,” she said.

“We know that COVID-19 has placed additional pressures on many families and many children have struggled with the disruptions and social isolation.

“Many children will benefit from the familiarity and stability provided by their own school environment, supported by their own teachers and being around their own peers,” Ms Lee said.

The ACT Education Directorate said today the plan remains for all public school students to access a remote learning program for Term 2.

“Where this is not possible, the ACT Education Directorate has made nine schools available as Safe and Supervised Sites,” they said.

At a Safe and Supervised Site, students from surrounding areas will be supported to access their remote learning program by a team of teachers, staff and a community service organisation.

The sites open for children who cannot undertake their learning from home in Term 2 include: Gordon Primary School and Caroline Chisholm School in Tuggeranong; Mawson Primary School, Red Hill Primary, Charles Weston School, Malkara School and The Woden School in South Canberra; Kingsford Smith School, Maribyrnong Primary School and Cranleigh School in Belconnen; and Amaroo School, Majura Primary School and Black Mountain School across Gungahlin and the Inner North.

Other specialist settings will continue to operate as normal, including the Muliyan Off-Campus Flexible Learning Program.

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