Schools prepare to welcome back pupils

Schools all across Queensland are preparing for a return to normal schooling after the state government announced prep, year 1, 11 and 12 would resume learning from school on May 11.

St Peter Claver Principal Terry Finan said his school was prepared and ready for a return to normal schooling.

"The government can put out what they want, but we have been expecting this for a while now," he said.

"We've been operating with students at school and online and that will continue until the return of year 11 and 12 next week."

St Peter Claver students (from left) Johnson John, Machyla Mackel, Jaxson White and Taylor Day with Principal Terry Finan.
St Peter Claver students (from left) Johnson John, Machyla Mackel, Jaxson White and Taylor Day with Principal Terry Finan.

Although it is encouraged that students in prep, year 1, 11 and 12 return to school, Queensland Education has said parents who decide to keep their children at home because of Covid-19 concerns are allowed to do so, as long as online learning continues.

Ipswich Girls Grammar School CEO and Principal Dr Peter Britton said he understood the desire for some parents to keep their children at home.

"There will be some parents who will still be cautious about sending their children back to school and some that are keen to have their children return to school," he said.

"It is important that we respect individual family decisions and endeavour to support all children as best we can in both scenarios."

Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates said the return to normal schooling for selected year levels was a good start for a return to normal schooling.

"We along with other stakeholders had been talking about possible models for a staggered return to schools that included prep, year 1 and 11 and 12 returning to school which is what the government has ended up going with," he said.

"From our perspective the decision is consistent with what a range of stakeholders had been talking about.

"The one bit that was a challenge was the speed at which the four year levels would be returning back to school."

Mr Bates said the return of more than 160,000 school students on May 11 would put a strain on teachers and schools.

Some parents are excited about the prospect of having their kids return to school.

Marie McLaughlin is a parent of year 12 student at St Mary's College Ipswich and was excited to hear about the return to normal schooling for year 12.

"I think it is fantastic that some students are returning to school," she said.

"I have a daughter in Year 12 and I had been hoping that these students would be allowed to return to school sooner rather than later.

"My daughter and her peers are trying to navigate the new ATAR system this year, and being back in the classroom might help alleviate some stress.

"The online learning set up by St Mary's has been wonderful in keeping my daughter on track but being back at school will ensure she receives all of the support and guidance she needs.

"The return to school will be great not only for students' education, but also for their mental health. My daughter has been missing her friends and having those regular social interactions."

As part of the state government's plan to gradually return to normal schooling it also expected all year levels will resume learning from school by May 25 with an announcement about a full return to school to be made on May 15.

Read more stories by Samtui Selave