NSW govt wants schools open amid pandemic

The NSW premier isn’t backing away from her staggered approach to returning students to face-to-face learning, noting schools should stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As schools across the state resume online learning this week for term two, teachers and staff will also plan for a return to face-to-face teaching one day a week from May 11.

Gladys Berejiklian on Monday acknowledged it was a “big move” for the largest state in Australia to have students resume face-to-face teaching.

She noted other countries across the world which rushed the decision had to close schools and re-open them – something she doesn’t want to do.

“Once our kids go back to school, that’s it. I want schools to stay open during the duration of the pandemic,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

Ms Berejiklian says NSW schools have been preparing for a staggered return of students by ensuring teachers can socially distance in staff rooms, children pick-up and drop-offs can be staggered and that an abundance of hand sanitiser is available.

The premier says it’s her aim to have all children back in schools by the end of term two.

“If we find that after just a few weeks the resumption of school is going well, there’s no reason at all for us to not bring forward a greater proportion of kids going back every day,” she said.

Ms Berejiklian also noted some businesses which chose to close amid the pandemic had been reopening since the announcement schools would return in May.

NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos backed the staggered return to school but noted year 12 students should be prioritised and allowed to go back first.

“Year 12 is a year of significant stress for our students doing the HSC … Those students deserve a lot of attention and need to be privileged in this instance,” he told ABC TV on Monday.

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