Independent schools will be forced to open in term two with the federal government threatening to pull funding if closures remain in place
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said independent schools no longer have the option to shut their doors during the coronavirus pandemic.
“They must provide a forum, they must keep their schools open so those students that can’t be cared for at home can attend,” he told Sky News on Thursday.
Schools ignoring the government order will risk funding.
“We have made it a condition that they are open to be able to provide that environment for those students, who can’t safely learn at home, to be able to learn,” Mr Tehan said.
The minister said medical experts continued to assure the government it is safe for schools to open.
He said working parents that couldn’t accommodate home learning needed to have the option of sending children to school.
“If they’re working we do not want them to have to make that decision between going to work and staying at home and educating their children,” he said.
State and territory schools are taking different approaches, but all remain open.
In NSW and Victoria students are being told to stay at home if they can, while WA and the NT are encouraging parents to send children.
But schools across the country are remaining open despite large swathes of society being shut down.
“We want schools to be open so parents don’t have to make that choice,” Mr Tehan said.
“Essential workers are anyone who is working to help us get through this pandemic.”
He also raised the prospect of year 12 students attending one or two days a week to complete practical learning.
Mr Tehan also flagged an announcement to help universities, which have seen revenue smashed with border closures cruelling the lucrative international student market.
“I understand the impact in the drop in international students has had on their revenue,” he said.
“I’ll have more to say on this in the coming days.”
The federal government has ruled out year 12 students attending an extra year of school because of coronavirus disruptions.
The Australian National University will use the year 11 results of students applying for undergraduate spots to make them an offer in August.