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Queensland schools will be 'student-free' from next week amid coronavirus pandemic, Premier announces

Queensland schools will be student-free from next week, Annastacia Palaszczuk announces.
Queensland schools to become 'student-free' from next week
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Queensland schools will be "student-free" from Mondaynext week, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced.

Key points:
  • The Premier said schools would still be open to children of parents working in "essential" industries
  • Outside school hours care and long day care will also continue
  • There have been 493 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Queensland

Children whose parents work in essential services will still be allowed to attend.

"It's not just our health workers, it's not just our emergency services workers, it's not just our police workers, it actually involves anyone who's in our workforce including people who stack shelves at Woolies and work in a whole [range of] different industries that their students will still be allowed to go to school," Ms Palaszczuk said.

Overnight, Queensland Health confirmed 50 more cases of coronavirus, bringing the state's total to 493.

The Premier said the decision to make schools student-free from Monday would give teachers a chance to prepare learning materials and get training in online teaching.

Education Minister Grace Grace said outside school hours care and long day care would also continue.

"But parents are reminded of the need to stay home as much as possible and adhere to the self-isolation rules, so they will be there essentially for workers required in their workplace," she said.

Until now, the Queensland Government had steadfastly insisted children should continue to go to school.

Ms Palaszczuk said she listened to the community, as well as teaching staff, and believed she had "struck the right balance".

"Let me give this very clear message to parents who will have their children at home: They should be learning from home next week," she said.

Who should present to COVID-19 clinics?
  • Those who are experiencing flu-like symptoms — like sore throat, cough, fever — AND
  • Have returned from overseas in the past 14 days or
  • Have been in confirmed or suspected contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case
Queensland Health has set up testing and fever clinics for people who may be infected with COVID-19.Patients who are tested should remain isolated at home until they receive their test results.For more information about coronavirus call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or go to the Queensland Health website

"They should not be out and about in shopping centres and if you have a grandparent who is unwell, who has one of those chronic conditions, you must not take your children to visit those grandparents."

The State Government said parents could access learning materials for their children via the new "learning at home resource hub" on the Department of Education website.

Ms Grace said two weeks of lessons were available now but she could not say exactly what would happen after the Easter school holidays.

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"We are planning for all kinds of scenarios. The department is working very hard to ensure that we can move very quickly," she said.

Queensland Teachers Union (QTU) president Kevin Bates said today's announcement provided certainty for teachers and parents.

But he said he expected even tougher measures to follow.

"Stage 3 lockdown, as part of the national crisis, will likely see all businesses have restrictions placed on them and from our perspective schools will be included in that," Mr Bates said.

"So we'll have to move to a process where learning at home is going to be about the only option that's available to students once we go back from the Easter holidays in the second term."

School polling booth changes

Meanwhile, three Brisbane Catholic schools will no longer host polling booths for Saturday's council elections amid coronavirus concerns.

Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) has confirmed St Sebastian's School at Yeronga, St Ita's School at Dutton Park and Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Coorparoo have all withdrawn.

A BCE spokesman said the Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ) had been advised of the decisions.

"The schools have maintained a rigorous approach to hygiene at all times and, with ECQ unable to provide an appropriate clean before school re-opens for staff and some students on Monday, the schools decided against participating on Saturday," a statement said.

"Brisbane Catholic Education supports the decisions of its individual schools on this matter given that they are managing well the risks during this time.

"The schools' priority remains the health and wellbeing of their communities."

An ECQ spokeswoman said "the agreement between the ECQ and schools about the use of some school premises as polling booth requires that the area be thoroughly cleaned prior to set up of the polling booth, and then again following election day".

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