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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Back to class for some as ACT schools reopen

This morning, a number of students across ACT public and private schools returned to campus for the first time since pupil-free days commenced on 24 March.

The ACT Government’s staggered return across public schools sees pre-school, kindergarten, year 1, 2, 7 and some students from years 11 and 12 back on campus today.

Students in years 3, 4, and 10 will return next Monday, 25 May, with the year 5, 6, 8 and 9 student cohort the last to recommence face-to-face schooling on 2 June.

Students will continue with their remote learning until the year group returns to campus.

ACT Minister for Education Yvette Berry this morning thanked the ACT’s teachers and families for their patience and sacrifice over what has proved to be a turbulent nine weeks.

“Teachers have never stopped working and early childhood educators have never stopped working throughout this entire period, so I wanted to pay special thanks to all of them,” she said.

“School leaders and teachers are professionals; this is their job to make sure that our children get the best possible education.

“It has been interrupted this year through what has been an extraordinary situation, but our teachers, I’m confident, will be able to restore children back to campus education.

“Each school has developed a tailored strategy ensuring social distancing unique to their layout, particularly around drop-off and pick-up.”

Ms Berry said teachers are currently investigating how assessment will look this year, especially with respect to the graduating class of year 12 students.

“You can’t assess the students on things they haven’t learned … They’ll be able to consider all of that, working with the federal government and our universities, particularly for year 12 students about what an ATAR is going to look like.

“The guarantee is that every student will get an ATAR that will be as valuable as it ever has been.”

Ms Berry said if there is a positive case of COVID-19 in an ACT school in future that campus would be closed temporarily.

“Within a school if there is a positive case identified then we will take the Chief Health Officer’s advice the same way that we’ve done previously when there was a positive diagnosis, the school was closed for contact tracing and a good clean so that students and teachers can return safely.”

Ms Berry said the ACT Government would “consider” another blanket closure of schools “as we go” if another outbreak of COVID-19 were to occur in Canberra.

Director of Catholic Education, Ross Fox, announced earlier this week that some Catholic schools will return to school from today, 18 May, while others will operate a staged return over several weeks.

“All Catholic schools aim to achieve a full return as soon as possible.

“Priority is being given to those students who will benefit most from returning to school. The needs of kindergarten, years 1, 2, 7 and years 11 and 12, alongside all other grades and year levels, will be considered by principals,” Mr Fox said.

“Schools are making provisions for vulnerable students and staff with personal medical conditions or family reasons why they need to remain away from school.”

Like their public counterparts, Catholic schools in the ACT are planning for a full return of all year groups to campus by 2 June at the latest.

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