NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced is it safe for students to return to classrooms full-time from Monday 25 May, in a press conference this morning — joined by Education Minister Sarah Mitchell.
Ms Berejiklian said the government has been using the time children have been learning from home to make sure NSW schools will be a ‘COVID-safe’ environment for them to go back to and continue their learning.
“During the school holidays and during the time students were learning at home, we made sure we had everything in place to prepare our schools for a COVID-safe environment — whether it’s providing medical supplies, whether it’s going through processes, whether it’s providing schools with the extra cleaning contracts, the extra cleaning equipment — we’ve made sure we’ve put all those things in place, and I’m very pleased to announce that from next Monday schools will be going back to full-time, face-to-face teaching,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Having been through this process of staged introduction of face-to-face learning, again, we’ve used that time to prepare our schools for a COVID-safe environment. I’m very pleased we’ve been able to use that time to do it properly because from now on we don’t ever want to see a situation where all schools are closed. We want to make sure that face-to-face time in the classroom is what maintains and sustains learning through the pandemic.”
Ms Berejiklian thanked the many parties affected by the past months of home-learning disruptions but warned the future will hold temporary school shut downs if there are community outbreaks.
“Can I thank everybody in our school communities — principals, teachers, students and, perhaps most importantly, parents for your patience in the last little while,” she said.
“But, it will be common for schools to be shut down temporarily, it will be common for a specific area to be on high alert, it will be common for a particular school to take extra measures if there’s a community breakout…and we just have to accept that.”
Hoping this latest announcement will bring relief, Ms Berejiklian said she can’t imagine what the past few months have felt like for “parents, single parents to have to try and manage the supervision and education of their children from home whilst trying to work themselves or run a household”.
“That additional pressure has been very harrowing, I know,” she said, “From Monday, it will be relief for everybody. In particular, I say to our teachers, thank you for your patience. Please know we will continue to support the most vulnerable… all of our staff in our schools and make sure students have the best education possible whilst everybody, not just being safe, but feeling safe in and around our school communities.”
NSW Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said she was really pleased with how the return approach to school has been to date with “excellent attendance over the last week or so”.
“Can I say to our parents, it’s still really important that you listen to your school principal in terms of the full return to school. All students will be back from next Monday but our school communities will look a little bit different.”
Ms Mitchell said NSW schools will not have things like assemblies, excursions and non-essential visitors, while there may be measures such as staggered drop-off and pick-up times to ensure safety, particularly for adults around school sites.
WATCH: Tuesday 19 May Full Press Conference with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Education Minister Sarah Mitchell
In the last 24 hours, NSW completed 5300 tests with two confirmed coronavirus cases, which NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Tuesday’s results each week always reflected some of the weekend testing.
“We really ask people to come forward and get that testing back up to around 8000 a day,” shes said. “We’re urging people with the mildest symptoms.”
Both of the people who tested positive were in quarantine from having arrived from overeas.