Accommodation landed for NSW public boarding students

The NSW Government has announced a plan to get public boarding school students back into their dormitory facilities after weeks of learning from home.

Image: Students from Farrer Memorial Agricultural High at their new boarding home at Tamworth Flying School. Credit: Rick Allerton.

The NSW Government has today announced a plan to get public boarding school students back into their dormitory facilities after weeks of learning from home.

Until now, boarding schools have been unable to return all of their students to full-time face-to-face learning due to Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) guidelines, which outline that students must either be accommodated in single rooms or a dormitory occupied at no more than 25 per cent of its previous capacity.

Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell said this meant only Year 11 and Year 12 boarders were able to return to Yanco Agricultural High School, and only 152 of the 320 boarders at Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School.

“Whilst students at Farrer and Yanco have still been able to learn remotely, the NSW Government understands how critical it is to get them back in the classroom and back to a sense of normality,” Ms Mitchell said.

“To ensure equity of learning opportunity for the students unable to return to the Farrer boarding facilities, the NSW Government has been able to secure single ensuite accommodation at the Tamworth Flying School, which is operated by the Tamworth Regional Council.

“This accommodation perfectly meets all of the Department’s requirements for security, wifi provision, a health centre, catering and recreation facilities; it was a no-brainer.”

For students at Yanco Agricultural High School, the fast tracking of pre-planned renovations at some of the boarding facilities and adjustments to other existing dormitories such as the installation of partition walls will allow for a staged return for all students.

“I know how important it is to get all of our country kids – no matter where they live – back into the classroom, so I am thrilled we were able to look at infrastructure modifications at Yanco to fast-track their return.”

Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson said he was relieved boarding students at Farrer were able to join day students back at school and resume face-to-face learning.

“I have heard from a number of parents eager for their children to return to school, and thanks to some quick and creative thinking the NSW Government has found a solution,” Mr Anderson said.

“I’m grateful we have been able to take a negative situation with the Flying School sitting empty due to COVID-19 and turn that into a positive for the community and students.”

The remaining public boarding school is Hurlstone with 43 boarders who were all able to attend school full-time from Monday 25 May.

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