NSW school students will gradually transition back to the classroom during Term 2 as the government continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell outlined the plan for students attending NSW public schools to progressively return to face-to-face learning in week three of Term 2.
Ms Berejiklian said health advice continues to be that schools remain open, and parents, teachers and students can be confident that school is a safe place.
“We are grateful to all families who kept their children home from school at the end of Term 1 and to teachers who worked tirelessly to deliver education online,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“This allowed us critical time to prepare our schools to develop better online learning options and for considering additional hygiene measures to allow schools to return.
“We know that nothing is more important than a child’s education, and we must begin to return our students to their classrooms in a considered way.
“Under these changes, from week three of Term 2, every student will be attending school for one day a week.
“We will look to increase the number of days students are at school in a staged way and hope to have all children back at school full-time by Term 3.
“I’d like to thank the Catholic and Independent schools for working with the NSW Government at this time, as well as staff, including teachers, principals and cleaners, for working so hard to prepare for a resumption of school.
“I’d also like to thank parents for what has been a tough month, often juggling working from home and caring for children. We hope the partial resumption of on campus learning will provide some much needed relief to those families.”
During the first stage of on-campus learning, parents will be encouraged to keep their children home except on their allocated day of face-to-face learning. Initially, about a quarter of a school’s students are expected to be on site at any one time. The specific days students will be required to attend school each week will vary from school to school and will be clearly communicated to parents.
Classes will be split across schools, allowing schools to appropriately social distance students and teachers.
As always, schools will remain open for students who need them and no child will be turned away from school.
Ms Mitchell said careful consideration had been given to support the school community, providing clarity and certainty on the path forward.
“This plan provides a clear path that balances community concerns with a need to deliver continuity of quality education,” Ms Mitchell said.
“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.”
In addition to the staged return to school, 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.
“Our casual and temporary teachers and other non-teaching staff across NSW schools are critical to our education system, and will help ensure the educational outcomes for our students during this staged return,” Ms Mitchell said.
A cross-sector working group of teachers will also be established to report back to the Minister on recent innovations and educational developments assembled during the COVID-19 period that are suitable to support future educational delivery.
“It’s important that we have an inventory of the cutting edge teaching solutions and recognise the best efforts of our amazing NSW teachers during a difficult time,” Ms Mitchell said.
Teachers will have an additional day to prepare for Term 2 on Tuesday 28 April making the first day of term for students Wednesday 29 April.