Students at NSW public schools will return to classroom teaching full time from next Monday, two months after the (Chinese Communist Party) CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, forced them to study at home.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is due to confirm the return date of May 25 on Tuesday, the ABC and Sydney Morning Herald reported on Monday.
There will however be no assemblies or excursions during the pandemic.
Face-to-face learning resumed across NSW last week with year 12 students at state and independent schools returning on average three to four days a week while other students are attending school at least one day a week.
It comes as the NSW transport minister warned of indefinite Sydney traffic chaos as social distancing measures force people returning to on-site employment off public transport.
Berejiklian on Monday said peak-hour bus and train services were already at capacity—with just 12 passengers per bus and 32 per train carriage permitted.
Berejiklian and Transport Minister Andrew Constance on Monday said workers would for the foreseeable future need to shift their schedules to off-peak bus and train transport, take alternative ferry and light rail routes or drive, drop off, cycle or walk.
This would inevitably clog Sydney roads.
Constance said some 87 million vehicle movements were on Friday recorded around the state as people continued to work from home—down from an average 105 million.
The maximum number of daily public transport trips permitted amid social distancing guidelines, meanwhile, would be 600,000 per day—down from 2.2 million.
“Ultimately people are going to opt to drive because it’s safe,” Constance told reporters.
“I could sit here and say there won’t be congestion on the roads but I’d be misleading you—there is. That’s why we want people to re-time their days.
“These are tough days—I know this is hard.”
Berejiklian said public transport commuters should try to travel between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in order to save peak-hour space for essential workers and construction workers.
Socially-distanced seating on public transport would be marked out in “green dots” in what Constance characterised as a “nudge” to keep people 1.5 metres apart.
Overflow parking, meanwhile, would be established in various Sydney locations—most notably inner Sydney’s Moore Park—for vehicle commuters, with socially-distanced CBD shuttles.
“We appreciate some workplaces already have a staggered approach to work—some people have already been going in and others might assess their options once their children are back at school, we appreciate that thinking is going on,” Berejiklian said.
“This is a new way of doing things. Until there’s a cure or vaccine, we have to live with COVID.”
The recommendations come as a man aged in his 60s became the 48th fatality in NSW, while the state only recorded one new case of COVID-19 on Sunday from some 6000 tests, with six people in intensive care.
The man, who died on Sunday, caught the virus from a personal contact and had underlying health problems, NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Sunday said he’d noted many people at cafes and restaurants over the weekend were not observing the 1.5-metre social distancing rule.
“It’s fair to say that there has been, in a sense, a great NSW bust-out,” Hazzard said.
Berejiklian also said on the weekend the state’s success in blunting the impact of COVID-19 may help attract private investment capital otherwise headed to the virus-hit U.S. and UK.
She declared future NSW economic policy would involve “far less regulation” and “flexibility to innovate” for the private sector and suggested GST reform should be discussed.
By Heather McNab