Managed return for students cut short

 

EXCLUSIVE

The return to increased face-to-face teaching for NSW students could happen "earlier than expected," according to an internal communication from the NSW Secondary Principals' Council to some NSW school principals.

The letter flags the possibility of social distancing being relaxed in schools beyond ten children in a classroom and the much touted 'five phase' managed return cut short.

"There probably won't be five, and it may all be back in the classroom earlier than anyone expects," the letter reads, noting there are likely more updates before the National Cabinet meets on Friday.

 

The return to increased face-to-face teaching for students in NSW could happen earlier than expected. Picture: Supplied
The return to increased face-to-face teaching for students in NSW could happen earlier than expected. Picture: Supplied

 

The email also acknowledges teachers are reporting issues with the hand sanitiser supplied, as it is too watery and states after May 11 living with someone who is vulnerable will no longer be a valid reason to work remotely.

Further documents from the Department of Education seen by News Corp state the restrictions around vulnerable teachers are now tightening and if teachers are unable to work due to needing to be isolated they will receive 20 days paid and after that will have to draw on their own leave.

Craig Petersen from the NSW Secondary Principals' Council, confirmed the letter and said the push to get more teachers back to school was necessary with students back in class.

"We have got to have all the staff on board but we are certainly looking after staff in that high risk category," he said.

But teachers have told The Daily Telegraph the new tighter restrictions around vulnerable teachers excludes teachers who are living with high risk medical workers as well as some workers and indigenous teachers and who were previously categorised as vulnerable but are now asked to return to school.

 

Schools are navigating a return to the classroom amid the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Supplied
Schools are navigating a return to the classroom amid the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Supplied

 

"I hear politicians claim that remote learning disadvantages our indigenous students but then we have to tell people who were previously considered vulnerable that they no longer are - it breaks my heart and it puts family members at risk," one teacher said.

The Daily Telegraph understands that some schools have received an initial supply of inadequate soap and low alcohol sanitiser as part of a first wave of supply but the department is working on securing better quality supplies.

"A lot of principals are frustrated because they think it has been substandard and watery but every business and government department is trying to get sanitiser at the moment and the department has done a good job of getting some essential supplies and getting them out quickly," Mr Petersen said.

 

Australian students are navigating a return to the classroom. Picture: Hollie Adams
Australian students are navigating a return to the classroom. Picture: Hollie Adams

 

The NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said: "the Premier and I have been very clear that we want to see students returning to full time school as quickly as possible.

"Next week will see students return for at least one day a week with high schools providing additional days for HSC students where possible.

"Department staff have been working incredibly hard to prepare and stock schools for the increased return in students, all hygiene supplies pass Australian standards."

Originally published as Managed return for students cut short


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