Teachers not responsible for kids who stay home

 

STUDENTS in Prep, Year 1, 11 and 12, whose parents choose to keep them at home, will not be marked absent but teachers will not be responsible for teaching them remotely.

The staged return to school come Monday will feature restrictions on parents entering school grounds, supervised social distancing at pick-up and drop-off points, staggered start times and lunch breaks.

Assemblies, sports, excursions, camps and inter-school activities are still cancelled for the rest of term.

It comes as 16 per cent of Queensland state school students were in classrooms on Tuesday, the highest attendance rate since the beginning of term 2.

Education Minister Grace Grace says students will not be marked as absent, but as ‘learning from home’. File picture: Richard Walker
Education Minister Grace Grace says students will not be marked as absent, but as ‘learning from home’. File picture: Richard Walker

Education Minister Grace Grace yesterday said some parents may want to keep their children at home due to concerns about COVID-19 and their child would not be marked as absent but as learning from home.

"In these cases, parents and carers remain responsible for their children, this includes ensuring their children stay at home and continue their learning by accessing material such as those provided for parents on the learning at home website," she said.

She said parents were still required to inform schools about their children's absence, and they may wish to discuss what support they need to help their child learn at home.

Education Department guidelines to schools reiterated the advice, that classroom teachers are not responsible for providing home-based learning for students in Prep, Year 1, 11 and 12 if parents "elect" to keep them at home.

Schools have also been told that social distancing is not required for students but all adults, both staff and parents should adhere to 1.5 metres distance.

But the Department of Education directive said schools can consider using "alternative learning areas" and adjusting start times to limit contact between classes and year levels, to minimise gatherings and to maximise airflow in teaching and learning spaces.

The directive said Queensland Health advised it was safe to use water fountains or bubblers.

"However, schools may wish to encourage students to bring water bottles for personal use," the guidelines said.

Queensland Teachers' Union Kevin Bates said the nuances of the staggered return to school were being worked through but teachers couldn't be expected to hold face-to-face and virtual classrooms at the same time.

QTU President Kevin Bates says teachers cannot supervise students in classrooms and those working remotely. Picture: QTU
QTU President Kevin Bates says teachers cannot supervise students in classrooms and those working remotely. Picture: QTU

"The only exceptions are those students that are vulnerable, [for example] students with cystic fibrosis, students going through cancer treatment, they can remain at home and schools will provide work because that's the way it's always been," he said.

Opposition Education spokesman Jarrod Bleijie said parents may have legitimate health concerns in deciding to keep their children at home, leaving them "stranded".

"There may be legitimate health concerns why these kids need to be kept at home and they should be supported," he said.

In a letter to schools yesterday Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said schools would not be reopened unless she was confident it was safe for everyone, and reiterated the health advice for school staff.

"I am confident that the hygiene habits young Queenslanders are learning at home will be reinforced in the educational setting," the letter said.

"The senior secondary year levels - Years 11 and 12 - are also important, and I believe that as our senior students transition to adulthood, they are old enough to understand and recognise the need for good hygiene and that if they are unwell, they should stay home."

 

Originally published as Teachers not responsible for kids who stay home