Calls for schools to be CLOSED across Australia to protect children from coronavirus – as principals cancel assemblies and ban students from hugging or shaking hands
- Experts call for the closure of all Australian schools to protect from coronavirus
- Some schools have cancelled assemblies, excursions, debates and sport events
- The federal government announced a ban on mass public gatherings on Friday
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
A leading doctor has called for schools across Australia to be shut down as the nation battles to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a ban on public gatherings of more than 500 people on Friday, but is facing growing calls to close down schools indefinitely.
The president of the Australian Medical Association in South Australia, Chris Moy, said that continuing to operate schools was a high risk.
‘Schools are pigeon-holed into the same category as other large gatherings and if the safety of children can be maintained then I think the schools will need to be looking at closing very soon,’ he told The Guardian.
Mr Moy’s warning comes as principals begin to take matters in their own hands, with reports of schools cancelling assemblies, scrapping sports games and banning students from hugging each other or shaking hands on campus.
Experts warned that all Australian schools (MLC School pictured) should be shut down to protect against coronavirus as principals begin to introduce new hygiene measures
Students at St Catherine’s School have been asked to abstain from hugging or shaking hands
The Prime Minister’s mass public gatherings ban, which will come into effect on Monday, did not include any schools or universities.
Independent girls’ schools such as St Catherine’s School and MLC School have revised the need for sport and debating events, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
St Scholastica’s College has cancelled its year meetings, open days, large excursions and inter-school events.
Principals at other schools are also looking at closing off events to visitors and asking parents to keep their distance.
St Scholastica’s College has cancelled its year meetings and large excursions or events
Mr Moy said that even though shutting schools may seem like an extreme measure it would be the most effective way to fight coronavirus.
‘What we are trying to do is make people understand that there is a real need for the hard stuff to be done upfront because that will make things easier later,’ he said.
‘People talk about flattening the curve, and what that means is we want to avoid a huge lump of people getting sick at one time and overwhelming our health system.’
Public schools are also keeping a strong focus on hygiene, with some implementing new strategies to combat the virus.
Coogee Bay Public School announced their decision on Friday to pause all assemblies and cancel community events like grandparents’ day.
Coogee Public School has also ceased hosting assemblies and community events
A NSW Department of Education spokesperson said: ‘We support principals making decisions based on the needs of their students and in response to their local community.’
As the federal government announced the mass gathering ban NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that schools would remain open and only shut on a case by case basis.
‘School is essential, it’s safe to go to school and when it’s not, we’ll shut down that particular school,’ she said.
Australia’s chief health officer Brendan Murphy stood by Mr Morrison’s decision to keep schools open, saying on Saturday: ‘At this stage we don’t think school closures are on the horizon.’
‘It is only something that can be extended if there are school outbreaks. The interesting aspect about schools at the moment is that children don’t seem to get either much in the way of infection or if they do, they get very mild infections.’
Mass public gatherings will be banned on Monday but schools are set to stay open (file image)