Pressure is growing on the State Government from parents and teachers demanding schools be closed. Photo: File.
Pressure is growing on the State Government from parents and teachers demanding schools be closed. Photo: File.

'Unsafe': Parents, teachers push for schools shutdown

UPDATE: 2PM: QUEENSLAND schools will remain open despite concerns raised from parents and teachers as the coronavirus crisis worsens.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the health advice was to keep schools open at this stage and that it was safe.

"I have sisters who are teachers, I have nieces who are in classrooms, I am not going to put any child in Queensland at risk and we are following the health advice," she said.

"If that health advice changes I will act swiftly."

 

EARLIER: CONCERNED teachers and parents are increasing pressure on the State Government to close all schools as the coronavirus crisis worsens.

The Queensland Teachers' Union has demanded schools close tomorrow, saying classrooms are too unsafe despite precautionary steps taken.

The Teachers' Professional Association of Queensland has also written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, claiming it's "simply too unsafe for our teachers to keep schools open".

"How is it that the social distancing directives apply to all Australians - except our teachers?," state secretary Jack McGuire wrote.

"Schools must shut in order to protect those teachers that are most vulnerable."

MORE COVERAGE OF CORONAVIRUS ON THE SUNSHINE COAST HERE

However, University of the Sunshine Coast researcher and education expert Dr Alison Willis said it was not that simple.

"It's a multi-layered question. Welfare, hygiene, health, social services, how will it affect parents without childcare options. The last thing we need is for kids to go into the care of grandparents," Dr Willis said.

"The Queensland Government says that parents can keep kids at home, hinting that it might be preferable.

"But it's very hard to take a hardline on this."

Canterbury-Bankstown Express Cleaners cleaning a classroom at St Christopher's Catholic Primary. Photo: Monique Harmer/AAP
Canterbury-Bankstown Express Cleaners cleaning a classroom at St Christopher's Catholic Primary. Photo: Monique Harmer/AAP

Dr Willis said schools have been taking every precaution and implementing hygiene practices where possible, including handwashing stations, social distancing and wiping door handles.

Her research includes papers on teachers keeping students stress levels down, where Dr Willis pointed to sharing stories of resilience and to keeping students in routine as being helpful measures.

Buddina State School principal Peter Lloyd, in an email in response to a concerned parent, said the school remained open, however, activities within it are being adjusted in response to the latest medical advice.

"The school has implemented regular handwashing procedures throughout the day to ensure the best possible standards of hygiene are maintained," Mr Lloyd wrote.

"Our cleaners are disinfecting classroom surfaces including the student desks each day.

"If you or your child are exhibiting symptoms of the virus, please do not attend school and seek medical advice.

"If you are required to self-isolate please inform the school so we can ensure the safety of all students.

"If a child has returned from overseas prior to March 15 and are not exhibiting symptoms, they are free to attend school. However, if a child has returned on or after March 16, they are required to self-isolate."

Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates said the union met with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and several ministers to discuss COVID-19 after its demands yesterday.

"They (State Government) are taking it very seriously," Mr Bates said.

"I would be expecting outcomes today."



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