Palaszczuk
Palaszczuk

Premier confirms back to school plan, dates

FROM May 11, Queensland's kindergarten, Prep and Year 1, 11 and 12 students will go back to school in a staged rollout.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the government would reassess on May 15 for the rest of the grades with the intention of sending all students back on May 25.

It comes as the state recorded three new coronavirus cases overnight with one case contracted in London, another in Los Angeles and the other on a cruise ship.

It takes the state's total to 1038.

Ms Palaszczuk said the return to classrooms was made possible by the state's low infection rates, thanking Queenslanders for the hard work they had done.

The Premier has conceded it had been a difficult juggling period for parents with children learning from home.

 

 

"I understand that parents are finding it incredibly difficult at the moment to be balancing working from home and also ensuring that their kids are getting the online schooling," she said.

"I think we've got the balance right here.

"And once our schools are back, we can absolutely then focus on getting our economy back. We can focus on getting people back into work."

Ms Palaszczuk said she expected "hiccups along the way" and the reopening of schools followed extensive discussions with Education Minister Grace Grace.

"Compare what has happened in this state to what has happened in other parts of the world and Queensland can be very proud," she said.

"It's only because of these good results we are able to once again lead the progress on the road to recovery."

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Education Minister Grace Grace arrive at Kelvin Grove College for an update announcing all Queensland students will return to school by May 25. Photo Lachie Millard
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Education Minister Grace Grace arrive at Kelvin Grove College for an update announcing all Queensland students will return to school by May 25. Photo Lachie Millard

She said Kindy, Prep, Yr 1, 11 and 12 were the first grades to return because "these are the children who are at the most important junctures of schooling - the beginning and the end of their educational journey'.

Schools will be shut down if there is a breakout of coronavirus while cleaning is undertaken.

There will be no excursions for the time being, as well as large gatherings at schools like assemblies.

Ms Grace confirmed there would be no "Year 13" for those Year 12 students working towards their ATAR.

"They will all receive an ATAR, those who want to go for an ATAR," she said.

Are you happy with the decision to send kids back to school?

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"And they will all receive their QCE, obviously modified.

"We are coming up with a fantastic assessment plan so that they are not disadvantaged."

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said Queensland's early response to confronting the pandemic was paying dividends now.

"You only have to look at what we were dealing with prior to the school holidays with what we have now to appreciate why Queensland is in the strong position it is," Dr Young said.

For weeks, the State Government has repeatedly said it would not reassess when students go back before May 15.

This is despite the Federal Government having insisted it was safe to send both kids and teachers back.

Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates said the challenge would be preparing for those classrooms to go back over the next four days, which is a "very short time frame".

"There are a range of logistical issues we still need to work through," he said.

Mr Bates said physical processes like school pick up and drop off needed to be worked through and redesigned.

"We're now in the COVID-world," he said.

The president said he believed the decision was balanced and that it didn't come as a surprise.

"What we're focused on now is what that will look like," he said.

"I guess that's one of the questions (whether parents will keep their kids at home regardless of the announcement), it's not clear to us what will happen," he said.

"In South Australia and Western Australia many parents have chosen to keep their kids at home.

"I'm not saying they should or shouldn't, I'm just saying that's a factor.

"It's simply how do teachers manage that?"

Mr Bates said the union would "be in the bunker" with the Education Department this week to work through the new arrangements.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the drop off and pick up of students needed to be worked out over the coming weeks.

She said it was really important that if students were sick that they stayed home.

Social distancing measures to protect adults at schools will include:

- Staff and students who are unwell must not attend school

- All adults must maintain social distancing of 1.5 metres

- Adults must not gather in groups in and around school grounds, car parks, school gates and outside classrooms

- Parents should use stop, drop and go options rather than walking children into school grounds

- Strict personal hygiene protocols, including the cleaning of high touch surfaces such as desks and door handles, will remain in place.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said schools should be open now and that today's announcement was a blow to the Queensland economy.

"To keep them shut until near the end of May is a major setback to Queensland parents, kids and teachers," she said.

"This health crisis is fast becoming a jobs crisis under Labor. Holding kids back from going to school is hurting them and hurting the economy. Getting kids back into school is the first step on our road to recovery."

Some COVID-19 restrictions were eased at the weekend, allowing people to leave their homes for recreation and non-essential shopping.

Most people were applauded for practising safe distancing but police dished out 146 COVID-19 breaches totalling nearly $200,000.

Among those was 25 fines for people at a two-day house party on the Gold Coast.

Police also urged people to avoid crowded areas after van loads of police were forced to move people on from a packed Burleigh hill Sunday night.

Originally published as WATCH LIVE: Premier updates on COVID-19 cases