Parents live in “la-la land” if they think homeschooling is over when classrooms reopen, a virus expert has warned.
NSW schools are preparing to return to face-to-face learning this month, which will be a welcome relief to many parents and students who are tired of studying away from home.
Under the back-to-school kindergarten plan, Class 1 and year 12 students will return to the classrooms on October 18, with the remainder following a week later.
But it will be an uneven road ahead, and further temporary school closures are all almost certain, says University of Melbourne epidemiologist Tony Blakely.
“These bumps will occasionally be that your kids are home again, occasionally, if not a lockdown, you will be asked to work at home if you possibly can,” Blakely told NCA NewsWire.
“The fact is that schools are likely to have to close from time to time if there is a significant outbreak at the school. Or maybe you live in a suburb where (the virus) just rages, so it does not make sense to send the children to school.
“The key point here is that you’re in la-la-land if you think we’ll suddenly go back to normal.”
Several NSW schools are closed for deep cleaning due to infections, including Hillvue Public School in Tamworth.
“I would like to confirm with you that a member of our school community has tested positive for Covid-19,” the school principal wrote to parents this week.
“Our school will be non-operational immediately so students and staff can attend on site to provide time for contact tracking and cleaning.
“All staff and students are asked to isolate themselves until you receive further advice.”
Such short-term closures are in line with government procedures for dealing with school infections, a spokeswoman for the education ministry said.
“We always follow the expert’s health advice when imposing Covid restriction,” she said.
“If NSW Health applies restrictions that require a school to return to learning from home, we will follow this advice.”
NSW Teachers Federation senior vice president Amber Flohm said schools had been told that closures would be decided on a case-by-case basis, depending on the level of exposure and vulnerability of individual school communities.
She said proper ventilation and mask wearing indoors could help mitigate the Covid-19 risks.
“Masks for children under the age of 12 are not mandatory, but we believe it would provide an additional safety measure,” she said.
NSW Deputy Prime Minister Paul Toole, a former schoolteacher, stamped mask mandates for schoolchildren in Victoria crazy and ridiculous.