Parents at one Sydney school are backing Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to keep schools open despite the coronavirus pandemic, saying it will keep kids in a routine and allow parents to continue working.
Mr Morrison has been steadfast in his view schools and universities should continue to go about business as usual, even with some choosing to shut their doors because of students or teachers testing positive to COVID-19.
In recent days schools in Victoria and New South Wales have shut down, while many schools across the country have begun trialing an online curriculum in case they are required to follow suit.
But at Strathfield South Public School, in Sydney’s inner-west, parents walking their kids through the school gate on Friday morning many told Daily Mail Australia they agreed with keeping things as normal.
Katy Maarbani (pictured) admitted she had kept her children Miah, six, and Malik, four, at home during the first week of term one, but said she now thought it was the right thing to send them to school
Mr Morrison said closing schools could potentially cost children up to a year’s worth of education.
‘What you do, you’ve got to keep doing for six months,’ he said this week.
‘Shut them down, they won’t open again. And that means your children will miss what is effectively a whole year of their education.
‘Now if there’s not a good health reason to do that and risk the child’s education or cause them rather significant economic cost…you should keep the schools open.
‘And that’s why I’ve formed such a strong view on this.’
Katy Maarbani admitted she had kept her children Miah, six, and Malik, four, at home during the first week of term one.
But she said as things had progressed she had begun to feel ‘overwhelmed’ by all the information and news around coronavirus, and now believes school is the best place for her kids.
‘I kept them off school for the first week of term because I though people didn’t have enough of an idea about what to do, and how serious it was,’ Mrs Maarbani said.
‘As long as we aren’t sick I think we just have to go on with life as normal.
As long as we aren’t sick I think we have to go on with life as normal…
Parent Katy Maarbani on keeping schools across Australia open
‘I’m listening to what the government is saying and I support that, but I’m trying not to think about it too much because it’s very overwhelming.’
One of those who is determined to keep the school gates open is Jason Shin, 10.
The Year 4 student said he liked going to school, with his father Francis supporting the continuation of the daily ‘routine’.
Jason Shin, 10, (left) said he liked and was keen to see it stay open, something his dad Francis (right) agreed with
University graduations across the country have been cancelled after the government banned indoor events with more than 100 people
‘I don’t think it’s bad enough that they shouldn’t be in school, they like it and it keeps them in their routine,’ Mr Shin said.
‘Everyone, from kids to parents, are talking about it but I’m not too worried.’
Evidently, neither is Jason.
Why the medical experts say schools MUST stay open
Medical experts have advised the Australian government that for the good of the country, schools must stay open.
– If schools were to close, it would force essential health staff to stay home
– This would lead to 30 per cent drop in healthcare workers
– Children who have caught coronavirus have not done so in schools
– Kids are far more likely to contract it at home or elsewhere
– This means children are safer in school
– Even if kids do get it, they have mild or no symptoms
– It would have dire consequences for the already embattled economy, leaving thousands of workers forced to care for kids
‘They are taking precautions, so I think that’s good and it’s good to keep school on because I like school,’ he said.
Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said the health committee advising governments strongly believed keeping schools open was the best thing to protect the community.
‘It will be hard for schools, but it would be much, much, much harder for society if the schools were closed,’ he said.
Other parents admitted they have little choice but to send their children to school as they have businesses to run.
Lucy Matic who owns a nearby food catering business said if school was cancelled it would make an already tough time even harder.
‘I know some parents are keeping their kids home but I don’t really have that option, I have a business to run,’ she said.
‘In saying that, I think it’s the right thing that schools stay open in any case, because my fear is that when all these people come out of isolation they are going to be the most susceptible.’
Echoing her sentiments was single mother Grace Ficara whose hairdressing business has already felt the full impact of the virus.
‘I’m not concerned about sending my kids to school, in fact I think it’s a good idea it goes ahead,’ Ms Ficara said.
‘But as a sole trader and a single mum, I really have no choice (but to send my kids).
‘Normally on a Friday I would be completely booked out, anywhere from eight to ten haircuts in a day – but today I have three.
As of Friday morning there are 710 confirmed coronavirus cases in Australia, and six COVID-19 related deaths
Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy (pictured) said closing schools would make life ‘much, much harder’ for many individuals and industries
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 756
New South Wales: 353
Western Australia: 52
South Australia: 42
Australian Capital Territory: 4
Northern Territory: 1
TOTAL CASES: 756
‘I have a mortgage so I need to keep working, and to work I need to send my kids to school.’
As she did the ‘kiss and run’ drop off out the front of Strathfield South PS, mother-of-one Sarah Braun said she also wasn’t concerned about the spread of coronavirus in the classroom.
Having paid close attention to the latest advice from the chief medical officer,
‘I’m not fussed about keeping the kids home from school, I support the government’s advice,’ Ms Braun said.
‘From what you hear kids have really good immunity, and if they were in danger you think they would be told not to come in.
‘Singapore is leading the way and they are still keeping schools open, so I think it is important to do the same – largely so the panic doesn’t set in among the kids.’