COVID-19 Archives - Education Matters Magazine

NSW education department provides working from home plan

Thousands of students will be lent computers and internet modems in NSW, in addition to Wi-Fi models for disadvantaged students unable to access online lessons at home, News Corp reports. 

News Corp reported that NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell was working with telecommunications companies to facilitate free internet or extra download capacity for disadvantaged students.

“We have been surveying schools to identify those students who do not have access to the internet or devices, and we are in the process of delivering thousands of devices and technology support to help students access work online,” Ms Mitchell told the publication.

“We are making sure that every student receives quality education no matter what access to technology they have.”

Some schools comprising students who predominately lack internet access will instead be sent hard copies, which will need to be returned to collection boxes set up in the front of schools, sent by post or scanned and emailed to teachers.

Students will reportedly not face punishment if they finish their work outside normal school hours as part of a plan to support working parents.

The education department is also working on plans for online fitness, singing and dancing classes. Tests in public schools are not taking place this term with the exception of Year 12 assessment tests.

The education department website provides further information on working from home and the department is offering a range of teaching resources, student materials, parent and carer advice and assistance for teachers who require support with planning lessons or using technology.

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.

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