It’s ‘back to school’ on Monday but apprehension is in the air

PARENTS are being asked to gradually send their children back to school from Monday (April 27) but Lismore MP Janelle Saffin can understand some apprehension may be in the air, given wider social distancing restrictions.

PARENTS are being asked to gradually send their children back to school from Monday (April 27) but Lismore MP Janelle Saffin can understand some apprehension may be in the air, given wider social distancing restrictions.

Ms Saffin said the fact that The Northern Star newspaper was conducting an online poll asking parents their intentions underlined that the jury was still out on the wisdom of such an early return to schooling during the COVID-19 crisis.

The unscientific readers’ poll asks, Will you send your kids to classes when schools open or keep them at home? Yes, No or Uncertain.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell yesterday (Tuesday, April 21) announced NSW school students will gradually transition back to the classroom during Term 2.

Ms Saffin noted the main takeaways from the NSW Government’s staged return to school plan were:

  • Parents will be asked to keep children home for the first two weeks of term where possible.
  • Beginning in Week 3 on May 11, students will return to school for one day a week of on-campus learning.
  • Individual schools will be left to determine which students attend school on which days.
  • Hand sanitiser will be available in all classrooms and provisions are in place for at-risk teachers to work from home.
  • Drop off, pick up, recess and lunchtimes will also be staggered to ensure social distancing.

Ms Saffin said the safety of students, teachers and support staff was critical, and their health and well-being would have to be closely monitored as the Government’s plan is implemented during Term 2, and possibly, for longer.

“Our public health units within the Northern NSW and Hunter-New England Local Health Districts are well placed to advise the NSW Department of Education and Catholic and independent schools on how to minimise risk,” Ms Saffin said.

“One positive thing to come out of this is that the NSW Government has committed up to $95.7 million to help keep casual and temporary school staff engaged in active work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Casual and temporary teachers and non-teaching staff struggle for continuity of work at the best of times, so recognising the important roles they play, alongside our permanent teachers, is well overdue.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2020.

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