When Queensland schools return for term two on Monday, April 20, the majority of students will learn online for the first five weeks while only the children of essential workers and the vulnerable will attend in-classroom lessons.
“This decision provides mums and dads with the clarity they need ahead of the new school term. It also gives certainty for our hard-working teachers who will be continuing to deliver lessons in a way they might never have imagined,” said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at a press conference on April 13.
The decision was announced jointly with Minister for Education Grace Grace who said the decision will be reviewed half way through the term on May 15.
Grace posted on Twitter saying that Queensland schools will loan laptops and devices to students who don’t have access to the technology needed to pursue their educations. Telstra will also provide 5,000 SIM cards to students who don’t have internet access to help them overcome that obstacle.
For children who don’t have a laptop at home, schools can loan them devices.
We’ve worked with Telstra to secure more than 5000 sim cards to make sure students without internet connectivity can access online resources.
— Grace Grace MP (@gracextwo) April 13, 2020
Victoria, the Australian Captial Territory (ACT), and South Australia have already announced similar models for their schools.
Teachers will be provided with the resources—and health and safety measures—they need to deliver an equitable education to all students.
“Although most students will be absent, staff will still be on site and we are continuing to work with suppliers to bulk purchase cleaning and hygiene supplies to support schools,” said Grace.
Where children cannot attend in person or online, hard copy paper access will be provided.
The Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU), which was previously critical of the state government’s approach to teacher safety during the pandemic, has announced that they are working with the state government to develop the new criteria for term two that will make teaching safer.
On April 13, a media release from QTU president Kevin Bates said that there was now a clear set of guidelines for schools in term two, with an increased amount of support for the health and safety of Queensland teachers.
The guidelines include limiting the number of students per classroom to 12, testing teachers who display flu-like symptoms for CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus (commonly known as the coronavirus), and allowing anyone with a medical certificate requiring them to work from home to do so without needing to take sick leave.