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National cabinet to discuss school return

National

A plan on how students can safely return to schools amid rising COVID-19 cases will be thrashed out by leaders when national cabinet meets today.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison will meet with state and territory counterparts to discuss a uniform approach for when schools start returning and to hear from Treasury officials on the economic reasons to keep schools open.

Term 1 in South Australia is scheduled to start on January 31, but that date is subject to change due to the flood of COVID-19 cases across the state and concerns about staffing if teachers are forced to isolate if they are infectious or identified as close contacts.

SA Premier Steven Marshall told reporters yesterday that his government was on track to finalise its position and inform the public about its plans for the reopening of classrooms by Friday.

He said officials were still waiting on further advice from the national cabinet meeting before finalising plans.

“We’re looking at various options,” he said.

“Obviously, our preferred option is to get students back to face-to-face learning as soon as possible.

“We know that they get much better outcomes, we know that having children staying away from school disproportionately affects the vulnerable in South Australia.

“Our first choice is to get as many people back to school as possible on day one, but… there’s still a little bit of extra work to do before we’re in a position to let parents know of what’s going to happen by the end of this week.”

InDaily reported yesterday that a survey of Australian Education Union members in South Australia showed the majority wanted the return of school to be pushed back by two weeks to give teachers time to prepare lessons and ensure sites were COVID-ready.

The Queensland Government announced last week that it would delay the start of the school year by two weeks to protect children, staff and families amid a wave of Omicron cases in that state.

But Marshall has previously said that SA would reach its COVID-19 caseload peak ahead of Queensland – likely in the third or fourth week of this month.

-With AAP

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