NSW students to transition back to the classroom in Term 2

NSW school students will gradually transition back to the classroom during Term 2 as the Government continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mark Scott and Minister Mitchell discuss school arrangements for Term 2 2020

Mark Scott

We're here at the command centre for COVID-19, and Minister, you've just held a press conference with the Premier, outlining the thinking for the operation of our schools in Term 2. What's the plan?

Minister Mitchell

That's right Mark. Today we've been able to give a bit more certainty to our school communities, our parents and our students about what we're doing. In Term 2 we will have a managed return to the classroom for our students starting from Week 3. One day a week, and we'll build that up over the term, to get our kids back and engaged with their learning in a school setting.

Mark Scott

And we're providing advice to our schools today, but they're gonna have a couple of weeks to plan, including a pupil free day – an extra pupil free day – at the beginning of term.

Minister Mitchell

That's right, so we'll have two pupil free days at the beginning of term to give our teachers and our school communities some time to work through what this will look like in their school. And there will be plenty of support coming from you, Mark, and the department to make this happen in a local context, which I think is really important.

Mark Scott

There's also new health advice that's being developed by the health officials here and the national health officials. Kerry Chant has signed that off already, and a copy of that will be distributed to all schools as well. But we're putting extra procedures in place.

Minister Mitchell

That's right; extra cleaning, extra hand sanitizer, making sure everyone feels safe and comfortable in the school environment, plenty of information coming out to our schools and principals today so they'll have all the questions answered.

Mark Scott

And extra support for our schools – we're guaranteeing the employment of casual teachers to support the learning and the activities in schools.

Minister Mitchell

That’s right Mark, so more support for our casual teachers, and for our school support staff. Giving them that guaranteed work throughout Term 2, but also helping us to make this system work. Because there are certainly some challenges, but I know if we all work together we can make it a real success.

Mark Scott

And what I think's wonderful about this is we want to make sure every one of our students is connected with learning, to get every student into schools, so they can connect with teachers and connect with that one unit of work they're doing. This is going to be so vital as we continue to manage the challenge of COVID-19 in our schools throughout Term 2.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell outlined the plan for students attending NSW public schools to progressively return to face-to-face learning in week three of Term 2.

Ms Berejiklian said health advice continues to be that schools remain open, and parents, teachers and students can be confident that school is a safe place.

“We are grateful to all families who kept their children home from school at the end of Term 1 and to teachers who worked tirelessly to deliver education online,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“This allowed us critical time to prepare our schools to develop better online learning options and for considering additional hygiene measures to allow schools to return.

“We know that nothing is more important than a child’s education, and we must begin to return our students to their classrooms in a considered way.

“Under these changes, from week three of Term 2, every student will be attending school for one day a week.

“We will look to increase the number of days students are at school in a staged way and hope to have all children back at school full-time by Term 3.

“I’d like to thank the Catholic and Independent schools for working with the NSW Government at this time, as well as staff, including teachers, principals and cleaners, for working so hard to prepare for a resumption of school.

“I’d also like to thank parents for what has been a tough month, often juggling working from home and caring for children. We hope the partial resumption of on campus learning will provide some much needed relief to those families.”

During the first stage of on-campus learning, parents will be encouraged to keep their children home except on their allocated day of face-to-face learning. Initially, about a quarter of a school’s students are expected to be on site at any one time. The specific days students will be required to attend school each week will vary from school to school and will be clearly communicated to parents.

Classes will be split across schools, allowing schools to appropriately social distance students and teachers.

As always, schools will remain open for students who need them and no child will be turned away from school.

Ms Mitchell said careful consideration had been given to support the school community, providing clarity and certainty on the path forward.

“This plan provides a clear path that balances community concerns with a need to deliver continuity of quality education,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Hand sanitiser will be available in all classrooms and provisions are in place for at-risk teachers to work from home. Drop off, pick up, recess and lunchtimes will also be staggered to ensure social distancing.”

In addition to the staged return to school, the NSW Government has committed up to $95.7 million to help keep casual and temporary school staff engaged in active work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our casual and temporary teachers and other non-teaching staff across NSW schools are critical to our education system, and will help ensure the educational outcomes for our students during this staged return,” Ms Mitchell said.

A cross-sector working group of teachers will also be established to report back to the Minister on recent innovations and educational developments assembled during the COVID-19 period that are suitable to support future educational delivery.

“It’s important that we have an inventory of the cutting edge teaching solutions and recognise the best efforts of our amazing NSW teachers during a difficult time,” Ms Mitchell said.

Teachers will have an additional day to prepare for Term 2 on Tuesday 28 April making the first day of term for students Wednesday 29 April.

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