Social distancing in action

18 March 2020

Following the Prime Minister's advice that schools should remain operational, I checked in with Northbridge Public School.

Principal Christine Smith acknowledged that while social distancing was a challenge, the school was working hard to implement the changes.

Because of their large playground, it's difficult to supervise students during staggered breaks, so instead, they're making sure students make the most of the open space.

Their approach has also been to limit the number of visitors to the school - including parents - and regularly encourage students to wash their hands.

Thanks to all our school staff for all they're doing to support students across the state during these circumstances.

We know this is demanding.

Education is an essential service, it's vital we help kids to continue with their learning.

Video - COVID-19 update, Wednesday 18 March

Duration - 2:03

Transcript of COVID-19 update, Wednesday 18 March

Mark Scott

Hi, it's Mark Scott and I'm here with Christine Smith. She's the principal of Northbridge Public School in Sydney. The Prime Minister indicated this morning that Australian schools are remaining open as we attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community. That means social distancing guidelines continue, but it's a real challenge in a school setting, isn't it Christine? The Prime Minister acknowledged that. How are you coping here?

Christine Smith

It is a challenge for us. Obviously social distancing in a school and an average classroom is very difficult to keep children a metre and a half apart from each other. So to try and counteract that, we have limited the traffic that is coming into and through the school as far as outside contractors, even parents coming in, they just have to basically drop off or pick up and leave.

Mark Scott

I've heard that there are hand washing rituals that you've established here. Tell us about that.

Christine Smith

There are hand-washing rituals and what we have been doing is making sure that the children at specific intervals throughout the day, for example, when they first come in in the morning before and after recess, before and after lunch. And of course thorough hand washing when going to the toilet.

Mark Scott

And you're keeping lunchtime together here, but you've got a big site that you can scatter kids across.

Christine Smith

Yes, we have found that having lunch times at different times of the day for different grades poses a few difficulties for us as far as supervision of children goes. So we do have a big site. We are utilising every part of the playground and site that we have and spreading the children out.

Mark Scott

Special thanks to our teachers and our school staff. We know this is demanding. Education is an essential service. It's vital we help kids to continue with their learning. Thanks for our teachers. Thanks for our school staff for all they're doing across NSW schools.

End of transcript.

Mark Scott

About the Secretary

Mark Scott is Secretary of the Department of Education. He has worked as a teacher, in public administration and as a journalist and media executive. He is committed to public education and learning environments where every child can flourish.

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