Victorian students should return to school

The Victorian Liberal Nationals are calling on the Andrews Labor Government to allow Victorian students to return to school, together with appropriate health safeguards.

Despite Australia’s Chief Medical Officer and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) supporting children learning at school in Term Two, most Victorian students are being denied that opportunity.

This must change.

While schools, teachers and parents have valiantly adjusted to manage remote learning for students so far, this cannot continue indefinitely.

Too many parents are unable to properly supervise remote learning. Too many students are missing out on the full education they deserve.

Too many families are feeling the pressure of having to simultaneously work and home school their children.

Expert medical advice is that schools are safe. So Victorian students should be at school unless parents want to keep them home or they are unwell.

The Liberal Nationals are calling for additional health safeguards to be put in place alongside a return to school. Staggered drop-offs and pick-ups, banning parents from school premises, banning contact sport and extra-curricular activities, increased funding for deep cleaning and medically-approved hand and surface sanitiser, as well as limiting adult congregation in spaces such as staff rooms are examples of measures that can further protect health and safety.

Teachers and support staff considered at heightened risk of COVID-19 due to age, health or other issues should continue to be able to work from home.

But the clear advice of the Australian Government and Australia’s Chief Medical Officer is that schools are safe and that children should attend school for Term Two.

Despite Victoria’s Chief Health Officer confirming that “schools are not dangerous places and parents should feel comfortable sending their kids to school”, the Victorian Government maintains that students must not attend school if they are able to learn from home.

The Liberal Nationals believe that it is time for Victoria to move along with other states. This means that Victorian students should be allowed back to school, unless they are unwell, or their parents choose for them to learn from home.

Comments attributable to the Leader of the Opposition, Michael O’Brien:

“We have consistent advice from the National Cabinet and Australia’s Chief Medical Officer that schools are safe for students to attend. The additional health safeguards I propose will make them even safer.

“Families are struggling with home schooling. The frustration is building, and it is important that students return to school, as AHPPC advice supports.

“The Premier needs to understand the pressure that his restrictions are putting on families. Other states are moving to get kids back to school safely, and Victoria must do the same.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Education, Cindy McLeish:

“The clear advice of the Australian Government and Australia’s Chief Medical Officer is that children should attend school for Term Two.

“With the Victorian Government at odds with the Australian Government, there are too many cases of Victorian students being turned away from state schools and parents worrying whether they have to quit their jobs to teach their kids.”

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