Gradual return to school announced

Central Coast children will make a gradual return to school from May 11 under a new plan unveiled by the State Government on April 21.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch, said the incremental return to face-to-face learning had been endorsed by education leaders in the public, Catholic and independent school sectors, but there has been criticism that the plan is not detailed enough.

“From Week 3 in Term 2, every student will attend school for one day per week,” Crouch said.

“Based on health advice, the Government will aim to gradually increase the number of days that students are at school, and we hope all children can be back at school full-time by Term 3.

Crouch said schools would remain open for children who cannot be supervised at home to attend as many days as they wish during Term 2.

“Our policy is that no child gets turned away,” he said.

Crouch said every health and safety precaution was being taken by the NSW Government to protect students and staff.

“Social distancing will be maintained by staggering the times for drop-off and pick-up, as well as recess and lunch,” he said.

“Additional hygiene products like soap and hand sanitizer will be available in every single classroom.

“Teachers who need a COVID-19 test will also receive priority access and at-risk teachers are encouraged to work from home.”

Crouch said each individual school community will implement the measures with guidance from the NSW Department of Education and will contact school families to communicate information.

But Central Coast Council of P&Cs President, Sharryn Brownlee, said not enough detail had been given on how the plan would work.

“Parents are anxious, especially primary school parents who are worried that their children will be in trouble for not being able to adhere to social distancing,” Brownlee said.

“Buses on the Coast are often overcrowded and transport and location need to be taken into account.

“Trains used by older students need to be safe as well.”

The State Opposition has called for Year 11 and 12 students to be the first to return to face-to-face learning.

NSW Labor Leader, Jodi McKay, said senior students were looking for reassurance and certainty about the school timetable as soon as possible.

“Year 11 and Year 12 are young adults,” McKay said.

“They can be trusted to socially distance within the school environment and we believe it makes most sense for them to go back to school first.”

McKay said clearer advice for parents, students and teachers was needed.

“There’s no certainty or consistency here for parents, students or teachers,” she said.

“Schools have not been consulted and this proposed model has never been implemented anywhere else in Australia or overseas.”

Media releases, Apr 21
Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch
NSW Labor Leader, Jodi McKay
Media statement, Apr 22
Central Coast Council of P&Cs, Sharryn Brownlee