Annastacia Palaszczuk has confirmed that the start of the academic year in Queensland has been pushed back by two weeks, amid a rising tide of Omicron cases.
Queensland Premier Anastasia Balachchuk has confirmed that Term 1 for all students will be postponed until February 7 in her state, amid a surge in Omicron cases across Australia.
Ms Palaszczuk announced: “The 2022 academic year in Queensland will start on 7 February to avoid the expected Omicron peak and allow more time for children to be vaccinated.” TwitterHer state has reported 18,000 more infections.
“The new start date will apply to all public, Catholic, and independent elementary and secondary schools and session owners.”
Year 11 and 12 students will begin distance learning from Monday, January 31, and schools will remain open for children at risk and those for essential workers.
Education Minister Grace Grace said pushing for the school year to start from January 24 to February 7 was “a logical approach.
“We will be facing the peak of the spread of the omicron virus and it will have a huge impact from the health advice,” she said.
“We want to give parents as much certainty as possible, which is why we made this decision. We know the year will be disrupted when we start school due to staff numbers.”
For the remaining school group, there will be an additional week of school in December, bringing the last day of term 4 to 16 December.
The majority of Queensland teachers have already been warned against preparing home learning materials ‘in case of emergency’, Express Mail reports, and they could be able to work from home if they are considered in close contact – and they are good enough to do so.
Meanwhile, NSW is pressing ahead with its plan to return to school, with Prime Minister Dominic Perot reassuring parents last week that the government was “incredibly confident that we will be getting children back to class (on) the first day, first term”.
Parents and teachers are “extremely concerned” about the prospect of a return to distance learning, according to the Federal President of the Australian Education Federation, Corinna Haithorn, who says a national back-to-school plan is needed.
Ms Haythorpe warned that if large numbers of teachers and students are forced into isolation by the virus, schools may have no choice but to periodically close their doors.
“If you cannot provide oversight and a duty of care, governments will have to look at how certain schools are pivoted to distance learning,” she said. Sydney Morning Herald.
No primary school student will be fully vaccinated by the time Semester 1 begins, because appointments for children ages 5 to 11 only open tomorrow, January 10, and an eight-week gap between doses is needed.
Part of the reason Ms Palaszczuk’s move to delay the start of the first term is to ensure children have more time to get a jab, while avoiding sending them back to school at the same time Queensland reaches the peak of the Omicron wave.
Ms Haythorpe said teachers and staff welcomed the move.
“Many children will not be vaccinated when the term starts, and then for the first two months it will be, at best, protection from the first dose,” she said.
“Schools have the potential to be super spread environments. If teachers feel they need to do a quick antigen test every day, they should be able to.”
The federal government has repeatedly emphasized that providing children with an injection has not been a problem, as parents scramble to close appointments. Some have reported having their doses canceled at the last minute by their GP because doses did not arrive.
Dr Karen Price, chairperson of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, said: “There is definitely more demand than capacity.” Herald.
“There’s nothing worse than promising people something and then taking it away, so doctors prefer to wait and make sure it’s in their fridge and then manage that order.”