The Easter holidays start early for public schools in South Australia and Western Australia because of the coronavirus pandemic as teachers across the country transition to flexible learning.
Both states announced on Thursday that they have decided to shorten Term 1 to give teachers the opportunity to prepare and transition to flexible education and learning.
The moves come as two more Australians die from coronavirus, bringing the nation’s toll to 11.
Queensland leaders also chose to bring up school holidays, in a similar movement to what Victoria and the ACT have already implemented.
Easter school holidays start early in South Australia and Western Australia because of the coronavirus pandemic as educators across the country transition to flexible learning
The school period in SA was originally supposed to break the day before Good Friday on Thursday, April 9.
However, students now receive an extra week of lessons from the Education Department, with four student-free days announced from Monday, April 6 through Thursday, April 9.
In Western Australia, formal classes will also end a week earlier on Friday, April 3.
WA Prime Minister Mark McGowan said the government is encouraging parents to keep their children at home from Monday, March 30.
“I know that the situation around our public schools is causing anxiety for parents, teachers, staff and students,” he said Thursday.
“I understand it might be confusing, but we’ve kept them open, in line with the best medical advice available through the cabinet process.
The Western Australia government announced the changes on Thursday
“As the pandemic situation progresses, we move on to the next step.”
Mr. McGowan said that students who stay at home from Monday continue their education by using the online learning resources made available.
“But all children who do go to public schools continue to be taught,” he said.
“If parents need children to go to school to keep their jobs, and for children in vulnerable families, such as children who live with grandparents, they are encouraged to continue school.”
Mr. McGowan said the additional free time will allow teachers and teaching assistants to plan and prepare a “new way of teaching” before the start of Term 2.
“It is crucial for us to strike the right balance between keeping the community safe, allowing essential services to provide our students with quality education during this difficult time,” he said.
The school period in South Australia was originally scheduled to be interrupted the day before Good Friday on Thursday, April 9. But students now receive an extra week of classes at the Department of Education, with four student-free days announced from Monday, April 6 through Thursday, April 9
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 2.675
New South Wales: 1,219
Western Australia: 205
South Australia: 197
Australian Capital Territory: 44
Northern Territory: 5
TOTAL CASES: 2,675
SA Secretary of Education John Gardner said the additional four days would give teachers time to prepare for Term 2.
“With the growing number of children out of our schools, our teachers need this time to prepare for the difficult challenge of meeting the needs of students at home,” he said.
“We support this for those parents and carers who can keep their children at home, well supervised and in a learning environment.”
Mr. Gardner said that they support families through the Learning SA website.
“These student-free days, consistent with the Prime Minister’s announcement on Tuesday evening, will ensure that our teachers are best prepared to teach whether the student is in class or learning from home,” he said.
“The government is responding strongly to the major challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and we will do everything we can to ensure that young South Australians continue to thrive in their education with a curriculum that is engaging, meaningful and accessible.”
There were more than 2,600 confirmed coronavirus cases in Australia on Wednesday
Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said that the health advice that has kept schools open so far has not changed, but that the guideline for pupils without education strikes the right balance given community concerns.
NSW schools remain open, but Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian has urged parents to keep their children at home if possible.
On Thursday, she flagged that her state was ready to shut down completely over the weekend, possibly prior to federal government action, if the situation with the virus’s spread does not improve.
Victorian leader Daniel Andrews made similar comments on Wednesday.
Australia currently has 2,675 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 11 people have died.
Queensland joined the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia at midnight to midnight on Wednesday by closing the borders.
New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT still have open borders.
In Western Australia, formal classes will also end a week earlier on Friday, April 3. WA Prime Minister Mark McGowan said the government is encouraging parents to keep their children at home if possible starting Monday, March 30
Victoria’s total number of coronavirus cases rose to 520 on Thursday morning, up 54 from Wednesday.
A 68-year-old man from Queensland died Wednesday afternoon after contracting the virus aboard a cruise ship.
Queensland Health said the man had a “serious underlying medical condition before contracting the virus.”
The eastern suburbs of Sydney have the highest rates of coronavirus in the state after an overnight rise, bringing the total in New South Wales to 1,219.
Of the state’s cases, seven people have died and 16 are currently in intensive care.