Statement on Schools by the National Cabinet – 27 March 2020
It is no longer business as usual for our schools, as we adapt to the impact of COVID-19.
We are now in a transition phase until the end of term as schools prepare for a new mode of operation following the school holidays.
For principals, teachers and support staff, the next few months will bring incredible challenges for our education system. We understand they need time to engage in the professional preparation and planning that is required to ensure that every child has access to education during this difficult time in a sustainable and effective manner for the rest of the 2020 school year.
Some states and territories have moved to pupil-free days already and each state and territory will come to their own transition arrangements with their workforce for the rest of this term.
While the medical advice remains that it is safe for children to go to school, to assist with the transition underway in our schools to the new mode of operation we ask that only children of workers for whom no suitable care arrangements are available at home to support their learning, physically attend school. This is vital to ensure that no parent should be forced to choose between their employment and the children’s education.
We understand the need for clear, nationally consistent health and safety advice so we have asked the AHPPC to develop guidelines about how staff in schools can protect themselves, manage social distance requirements and cater for those students who are at school. This will include guidelines for staff who work with vulnerable children, particularly those who have additional needs.
For education staff who identify as high risk, vulnerable or are caring for vulnerable family members, you will be supported to work from home.
We will continue to meet with education stakeholders and unions so that we can understand the education challenges for our communities and work constructively towards solutions. That will include the National Cabinet’s consideration of the measures needed for early childhood settings and TAFE.
For statements on other issues, the full Government update can be found at: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/update-coronavirus-measures-270320
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