A message from Scott Morrison urging parents to send their children to school has caused confusion across the country, with some states issuing conflicting advice.
The Prime Minister’s message comes as Victorian schools reopen for their first day of Term 2, with the majority of students expected to be learning from home after the State’s Premier Daniel Andrews requested only children of essential workers and should be physically attending.
“We will lose many things in the course of fighting this virus. One thing that I know teachers are united on, with their parents, is we do not want one of those things to be the loss of a child’s education, giving up a whole year of their learning.”
Education Minister Dan Tehan attempted to clarify the advice, saying schools should remain open to children unable to conduct remote learning.
“There’s been a very consistent message right across the nation. And that is if parents need to work or for vulnerable students, you should be attending school,” he said.
Mr Tehan echoed the prime minister, saying this was vital in maintaining continuity for school children who could potentially miss out on essential and foundation learning.
“It is absolutely vital that our students get the best education that they possibly can during the next four, six weeks, during the next three months, during the next six months, for however long it takes for us to flatten the curve,” he said.
READ MORE:School closures and recommencement dates across Australia amid the coronavirus pandemic
“We want do make sure that those children don’t suffer as a result of this pandemic. We want to make sure that the schools are open so that they can go and get that education that they need.”
Mr Morrison said the expert medical advice remained that the coronavirus risk remains very low for children attending school, but the health of teachers was a priority.
“Quite rightly, state and non-government education authorities are working on how to support and protect those teachers who continue with classroom learning, or having other arrangements in place for them.”
The message consistently delivered to Victorians has been if you can learn from home you must learn from home, bringing the state’s messaging in direct conflict with that of the PM.
Victoria has enforced strict conditions under which students can physically attend school grounds, with parents now required to fill out a form each week declaring in writing that their children are not unwell.
The Department of Education and Training has issued all government schools with a form for parents who require on-site care to sign.
“The Victorian government has stated that all students who can learn from home must learn from home,” the form states.
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The first day of term two is expected to bring significant confusion due to the inconsistencies of messaging between state and federal government.
Many school are scrambling to determine how many students will attend and how to accommodate for those studying from home.
The expert health advice in relation to schools has remained the same since the pandemic began, advising parents, teachers and students that the risk is very low.
The ongoing debate surrounding school attendance is likely to see education as one of the priority topics of discussion at tomorrow’s national cabinet meeting.
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