The Prime Minister, following a meeting of the National Cabinet, outlined a series of seven principles relating to the the education system’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
In short, leaders emphasise the value of providing education within classroom settings, but acknowledge that it is up to state and territory governments and the non-government school sector to make operational decisions.
There is also a need for schools to offer teachers and staff a safe working environment, although the Prime Minister noted that for teachers there is “more at risk in the staffroom than the classroom”.
The full list of principles is as follows:
- Our schools are critical to the delivery of high quality education for students and to give our children the best possible start in life. Our education systems are based on the recognition that education is best delivered by professional teachers to students in the classroom on a school campus.
- It is accepted that during the Covid-19 crisis, alternative flexible, remote delivery of education services may be needed.
- Our schools must be healthy and safe environments for students, teachers and other staff to ensure the effective and efficient delivery of education to students.
- State and territory governments and non-government sector authorities are responsible for managing and making operational decisions for their school systems respectively, subject to compliance with relevant funding agreements with the Commonwealth.
- Decisions regarding the response to Covid-19 in the schooling sector must continue to be informed by expert, official, national and state-based public health and education advice, consistent with these national principles.
- All students must continue to be supported by their school to ensure participation in quality education during the Covid-19 crisis.
- The health advice consistently provided by the AHPPC is that attendance at a school campus for education represents a very low risk to students. The advice also notes that appropriate practices must be employed at schools, like at other workplaces, to provide a safe working environment for school staff, including teachers, and that the specific AHPPC advice regarding school campuses should be followed.
These principles do not change the previously indicated position or ability for individual schools to make operational decisions at a local level.
A copy of the Prime Minister’s statement can be viewed here.