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Back to school this month for most ACT school students

The ACT’s public school students will begin returning to face-to-face learning this month in a staggered approach that will see some students back in classrooms in just 11 days’ time.

The return to on-campus learning for public school students will see all preschool, kindergarten, Year 1, 2 and 7 students return to their usual schools on Monday 18 May, with Year 11 and 12 students beginning a combination of on-campus and remote learning.

From Monday 25 May, all Year 3, 4 and 10 students will return to their regular schools.

Then from Tuesday 2 June, following the June long weekend, all students in Years 5, 6, 8 and 9 will return to their usual school campus.

For essential workers who are parents of school-age children, registrations for the nine ‘Safe and Supervised’ school sites will close this Sunday 10 May. Those sites will cease operation from the end of the school day on Friday 15 May.

All students who have registered to attend a Safe and Supervised site as of this Sunday will be able to attend their usual school from Monday 18 May.

These students will continue to undertake remote learning at their regular school until their year group returns to on-campus learning.

So far in Term 2, these open school sites have received approximately 3% of public school students.

Non-government schools, both Catholic and independent, will also be transitioning back to on-campus learning over the next month.

The ACT Government say they have developed their plan in consultation with teachers and their union, school leaders and parent representatives.

ACT Minister for Education Yvette Berry said extra steps will be taken to protect students, families and staff for the duration of this pandemic.

“Extra cleaning will occur and physical distancing measures for adults at public schools, for example, staggered breaks and occupancy limits for staff rooms, may be required.

“Individual public schools will make these arrangements locally and will communicate with their school community over the coming week,” she said.

Ms Berry asked that parents and carers who can keep their children learning remotely until on-campus learning commences for their year group should continue to do so.

Shadow Minister for Education Elizabeth Lee said Canberra families have faced weeks of uncertainty.

“Thousands of Canberra families will be disappointed that they will have to wait another four weeks before their children can return to schools, despite the prevailing evidence provided by medical experts that schools are safe environments,” Ms Lee said.

“We need to open all local schools now to give stressed parents choice; to protect the education, development and wellbeing of our children; and to support our teachers do what they do best – providing quality education in the classroom,” Ms Lee said.

Systemic Catholic schools to return from 18 May

Meanwhile, all ACT systemic Catholic schools are preparing students to return to school from Monday 18 May.

In a statement, Ross Fox, director of Catholic Education Canberra and Goulburn, said some Catholic schools will immediately return to school from Monday 18 May, while others need to plan a staged return over two or more weeks.

It is likely that all Catholic schools in the ACT will achieve a full return to school by Tuesday 2 June at the latest, following the Reconciliation Day public holiday.

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.

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

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