Dan Andrews announces MAJOR update to the school year for millions of young Aussies – as he pushes forward with new Covid-19 plan
- Dan Andrews says he will not close down schools due to Covid outbreaks
- Comes after he closed schools across the state to deal with rising case numbers
- Mr Andrews says he wants every student back in the classroom by start of term
- He suggested the school system may ‘look different’ as many teachers isolate
Victoria’s Premier Dan Andrews has declared that he will not shut down schools as the state pushes forward with a new Covid-19 strategy.
Mr Andrews has been working closely with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet to ensure both states have similar back-to-school plans.
‘We are not going to have two systems. We are focused on having our system as we knew it pre-pandemic,’ Mr Andrews said.
Dan Andrews wants kids back in the classroom, but says school system will be under strain
‘We want every student back in the classroom day one, term one. We are looking to run one system, not necessarily to be having an online system as well.
‘But I foreshadow, really clearly, it may look different. It will be under a bit of strain because of course teachers are not immune from this virus.’
NSW and Victoria are expected to present a united schooling plan to National Cabinet later today.
NSW and Victoria are expected to present a united schooling plan to National Cabinet on Thursday
Plans under consideration include calling upon retirees and final year university graduates to substitute for teachers who are isolating, and requiring each student to do twice-weekly RATs.
Queensland schools are starting a fortnight later than originally scheduled to allow more staff and students to be vaccinated.
While there was no agreement from national cabinet on how schools should reopen, and stay open, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it will be up to each jurisdiction to announce a return to school plan over the next three days.
‘The school operational plans will be consistent with the principles that we agreed last week,’ he said on Thursday.
Each state will be able to tailor its own plan, with the Morrison’s main priority keeping schools open during outbreaks so parents can remain in the workforce.
‘We need schools open and we need to see them stay open,’ he said.
‘If schools don’t stay open, you could see that furloughing of our workforce go from 10 to 15 per cent, which would have a devastating effect on our economy.’
Plans under consideration for reopening schools include calling upon retirees and final year university graduates to substitute for teachers who are isolating, and requiring each student to do twice-weekly RATs
The Commonwealth government will also support states and territories that want to implement surveillance testing for schools on a 50-50 cost sharing basis.
‘While it is not the medical advice recommendation for that to be undertaken, states and territories may be choosing to do that based on the education advice they are receiving for those states to ensure that schools can open where they believe is necessary, the Commonwealth government will be supporting them.’
Chief medical officer Paul Kelly said there will likely be a spike in Covid-19 transmission when children return to face-to-face learning however, he agreed schools needed to reopen.
‘We are very much in agreement to get schools back. That is important,’ he said.
‘The reasons; health, physical, mental, social, developmental for children.
‘We need to take that on its merits and balance like we have been doing for essential workers.’
On Wednesday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said schools staying open was critical for Australia’s workforce.
He told reporters the country is heading towards the peak of the Omicron wave where 10 per cent of the workforce – or 1.3 million workers – could be absent.
That number could rise a further five per cent – an additional 740,000 people – if schools or childcare centres were closed.