South Australian parents are being urged to send their children back to school. (ABC News: Chris Gillette)
South Australian parents will be urged to send their children to school next week after the state’s Education Department revised its stance on the coronavirus threat.
- South Australian parents are being encouraged to send students to school
- Previously the focus had been on providing support at school and remotely
- The Education Department will continue to respect parent preferences
In a letter sent to principals and pre-school directors on Wednesday, Education Department chief Rick Persse said the position had been rethought in light of low rates of infection in South Australia.
“Advice from SA Health and Australia’s health body, AHPPC, remains unchanged,” he said.
“Schools, preschools and early childhood facilities are low-risk environments for COVID-19 and should remain open.
“We will be encouraging students to return to their classroom for term two.”
The State Government had previously said no student would be turned away from school, but the focus would be on learning both remotely and in the classroom.
Mr Persse’s letter, which will be circulated on Thursday, explained that the need for online learning has now been reconsidered.
He said schools were low-risk environments and the Department would continue with safety measures to reduce the risk of transmission.
Among those will be increased cleaning at all sites and centrally-sourced hygiene products such as hand soap, sanitiser and tissues.
But he said the personal preferences of parents would still be respected, and current remote learning arrangements will continue.
“If [parents] don’t feel comfortable sending their children to school or pre-school for whatever reason, they won’t be obliged to,” he told principals.
“Please continue your remote learning offering for students learning from home.”
Education Minister says Department had to react
At the end of term one, parents were told they should make preparations for online learning, but Education Minister John Gardner said the situation had changed over the school holidays.
“Before the end of term one we had much higher rates of positive diagnosis than we have now, and we made a commitment to parents that we’d put in place online learning platforms,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide.
“But we’re entering term two with somewhat different circumstances, and the advice is that school is the best place for your child.”
Mr Gardner reiterated that the Government’s position on the safety of schools remained the same.
“We’ve always had our schools open,” he said.
“The thing that changed during term one is that if parents made a decision to keep their children home, we would give them support to do so.
“That support remains, but if you’re in doubt, send your kids to school.”