Elite school defies state’s back-to-school plan

 

A TOP private school will defy the State Government by letting all grades go back to school on Monday to "make life easier'' for families during coronavirus lockdowns.

Brisbane Boys' College has told parents they can send siblings in any grade back to class, to join brothers in Year 11 and 12, prep and year 1 - the only grades given the green light by Education Queensland to return to classrooms next week.

BCC headmaster Paul Brown said boys in years 2 to 10, with a brother in an approved back-to-school grade, will also be welcome to "attend school for supervision''.

He said the school wanted to make "life a little easier'' for working parents.

"We are fortunate to have the staff, resources and facilities to be able to support this small accommodation to try and make life a little easier for our families who are juggling work commitments and children working across different platforms and locations,'' he told The Courier-Mail yesterday.

Brisbane Boys College headmaster Paul Brown said the school wanted to make life a little easier for parents. File picture
Brisbane Boys College headmaster Paul Brown said the school wanted to make life a little easier for parents. File picture

"Whether our boys are learning face-to-face in the classroom, or via our Learning at Home model, they will continue to benefit from teacher-led and directed learning of the highest quality.''

The private school's decision to open classes to some students across all year levels conflicts with the Education Queensland directive for state schools, which must restrict classrooms to students who are vulnerable, the children of essential workers, and kids in prep and years 1, 11 and 12 from Monday.

All other students must continue to learn at home for at least another fortnight, even if their parents are working from home.

Australia's biggest school, Kelvin Grove State College, will hold some classes outdoors and encourage senior students to "social distance'' when they head back to school next week.

In a college newsletter, senior school principal Duncan Steel says the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee has advised that physical distancing of four square metres per person indoors, or 1.5m apart outdoors, "is not required for students during classroom activities'' to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"However where possible teachers will space desks and use outdoor areas to reduce student to student contact in the classroom,'' he said.

"Where possible staff will adhere to the physical distancing of 1.5m from students and will encourage students to practise social distancing.''

Mr Steel said school assemblies had been cancelled, so senior students will be allowed to go home early at 12.35pm every Wednesday, unless they had an afternoon class.

Queensland's Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, has assured parents that it is "safe for everyone'' to send their children back to class next week.

"I understand that sending your students back to school at this time can be difficult, particularly when you see the impact that COVID-19 has had on many other countries around the world,'' she says in a missive to parents and guardians.

"I want to assure you that we would not be recommending a return to school unless we were confident that it was safe for everyone.

"I know that in recent weeks many of you have been making some big sacrifices to ensure that your children can keep learning from home, often while juggling many other commitments.''

Dr Young said prep and Year 1 students had been chosen to go back to class first "to give all our children a great start to life''.

She said Year 11 and 12 students were "old enough to understand and recognise the need for good health and hygiene and that if they are unwell, they should stay home''.

Originally published as Elite school defies state's back-to-school plan