Governments split over school closures - Education Matters Magazine Governments split over school closures
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Governments split over school closures

While Victorian Premier Dan Andrews will close school from 24 March, the NSW Government has encouraged parents to keep their children at home.

It comes at the Prime Minister confirmed that schools would remain open based on health advice.

Conversely, the ACT Government released a statement highlighting that ACT schools, government and non-government, will begin pupil-free days from Tuesday 24 March through to the school holidays despite statements from the prime minister.

Education Minister Yvette Berry said out the decision was consistent with the approach being adopted by NSW and Victoria.

“Moving to pupil free days now will provide schools and teachers with time to prepare for a range of learning delivery options, including online, similar to how distance education is provided in remote areas,” she said.

“The ACT school system is prepared to transition to alternative teaching models from term 2. Government schools are well placed for this shift, after the government invested significantly in devices for students and digital capability over recent years.”

She said that school principals will be providing more information to school communities as this fast-moving situation develops.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that because nearly 30 per cent of children are already being kept out of school, for practical reasons NSW is encouraging parents to keep their children at home.

“This will ensure there is only one unit of work, whether the student is at home or at school,” she said.

“No child will be turned away from school.”

In a statement on March 23, Australian Education Union (AEU) Federal President Correna Haythorpe called on all governments to have consistency with the decisions that are being made for schools, preschools and TAFE.

“The issues for COVID-19 are real and are urgent. With requirements being imposed on many sectors in Australia it is time for the Commonwealth and state and territory governments to enable schools to prepare for next term and the challenges ahead. We need a smooth transition process clearly outlined which protects staff and students” Ms Haythorpe said.

“We are very concerned about our members and their ongoing health and safety. These are unprecedented times and we must all work together constructively to resolve the situation. However this requires leadership from government,” Ms Haythorpe said.