You may have already seen the press conference given by Education Minister James Merlino and Deputy Secretary David Howes on Thursday, following the first day of term 2. Minister Merlino reported that 97% of the one million school students commenced the term learning from home, with 30,000 laptops and tablets already distributed.
The National Cabinet also announced the following list of seven principles in relation to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Our schools are critical to the delivery of high quality education for students and to give our children the best possible start in life. Our education systems are based on the recognition that education is best delivered by professional teachers to students in the classroom on a school campus.
2. It is accepted that during the COVID-19 crisis, alternative flexible, remote delivery of education services may be needed.
3. Our schools must be healthy and safe environments for students, teachers and other staff to ensure the effective and efficient delivery of education to students.
4. State and Territory Governments and non-government sector authorities are responsible for managing and making operational decisions for their schools systems respectively, subject to compliance with relevant funding agreements with the Commonwealth.
5. Decisions regarding the response to COVID-19 in the schooling sector must continue to be informed by expert, official, national and state-based public health and education advice, consistent with these national principles.
6. All students must continue to be supported by their school to ensure participation in quality education during the COVID-19 crisis.
7. The health advice consistently provided by the AHPPC (Australian Health Protection Principal Committee) is that attendance at a school campus for education represents a very low health risk to students. The advice also notes that appropriate practices must be employed at schools, like at other workplaces, to provide a safe working environment for school staff, including teachers, and that the specific AHPPC advice regarding school campuses should be followed.