All NSW schools return to full-time face-to-face teaching

 

Parents who keep their children home from school next week will risk seeing them fall behind, with remote learning programs put in place during COVID-19 to end from Monday.

When the state's public schools go back return full-time next week, all students will be expected to attend class, Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said.

"We'll be returning back to normal learning from next week, (and) the remote learning units that we've been having in place will no longer continue," Ms Mitchell said.

"We expect students to attend … and unexplained absences will be followed up."

Lilly, 9, and Ruby, 7, picture with mum Davina Zanet, went back to St Mary – St Joseph Catholic Primary School in Maroubra full-time this week. Pictured: Tim Pascoe Lilly, 9, and Ruby, 7, picture with mum Davina Zanet, went back to St Mary - St Joseph Catholic Primary School in Maroubra full-time this week. Pictured: Tim Pascoe

Ms Mitchell said parents of students with particular health conditions would be able to speak with principals about special arrangements.

"But the general message is: school is open, students need to return, and those who aren't there will be marked absent," she said.

Extra cleaning and hygiene supplies have been provided to state schools to help assure parents they are safe.

Parents taking their kids back to school are being urged to maintain social distancing at school drop-offs and pick ups.

Principals will be responsible for deciding whether drop-off and pick-up times are staggered.

"We've got 2200 public schools in NSW and their physical settings are all a bit different," Ms Mitchell said.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell (left) and Premier Gladys Berejiklian said NSW schools will return to full-time face-to-face teaching from Monday. Picture: Bianca De Marchi/AAP Education Minister Sarah Mitchell (left) and Premier Gladys Berejiklian said NSW schools will return to full-time face-to-face teaching from Monday. Picture: Bianca De Marchi/AAP

"Expect that there can be staggered pickup and drop off times, listen to what your principals are saying, and take that advice seriously."

Plans to return to full-time face-to-face teaching follows Premier Gladys Berejiklian saying she was confident the state could take the next step from May 25.

About 42,000 bottles of hand sanitiser, temperature monitors and increased cleaning schedules have been rolled out across NSW to ensure safe environments for students and teachers.

Private schools have largely followed the state school attendance advice through the pandemic although there have been some variances.

Some have already set their own timetable for the return to school.

NSW will now be in lock-step with Queensland, which also is sending children back to the classroom full-time from May 25.

Students began one day of face-to-face learning per week from May 11 after the government secured sufficient medial supplies to make the environment safe.

Stakeholders, including the Teachers Federation - which has resisted a return to classrooms - were informed of the decision last night.

Ms Berejiklian had previously said she intended to have students back at school full-time by the end of the month.

Davina Zanet, from South Coogee, sent her daughters Lilly, 9, and Ruby, 7, back to St Mary - St Joseph Catholic Primary School at Maroubra when classes at the private school resumed full-time last Monday.

Ms Zanet, 32, was "fully supportive" of the decision to send her girls back into the classroom five days a week and said it had made them "happier" after the challenges of homeschooling.

"I was a bit hesitant at first but it was a good decision, the girls are so happy to be back and we drilled it into them about social distancing," Ms Zanet said.

Lilly and Ruby Zanet were happy to get back to school to see their friends. Picture: Tim Pascoe Lilly and Ruby Zanet were happy to get back to school to see their friends. Picture: Tim Pascoe

"Having the routine back and seeing their friends has boosted their morale a lot."

Despite her initial reservations about a sudden full time return to school, Ms Zanet said the return of a five-day routine had been "positive" and urged all private and public schools in NSW to do the same.

"Going back to five days instead of one day or two days or a staggered routine was much better to get them into a routine. Kids need a routine and they're coming home happy, I'm really pleased with it," she said.

"At the moment there's some schools going back, some which aren't, but it's all or nothing and really we need to all be in it together. As long as we keep practising hygiene and social distancing, we're doing the best we can."