WA Education Minister Sue Ellery has instructed parents to begin keeping their children at home starting from today as teachers prepare to overhaul education in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The arrangements have been staggered to allow teachers, and families, to adjust.
Here is what we know about how schooling in WA will change in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
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Next week, from Monday March 30 to Friday April 3, children will be able to go to school as normal, but the Government is urging parents to keep them home if you can.
The following week, from Monday April 6 to Thursday April 9, parents who cannot make alternative arrangements can still send their children to school, but teachers will only provide supervision, not structured learning.
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This is to allow essential workers who require childcare to continue working and for children in vulnerable circumstances, such as those whose only option is being cared for by grandparents.
WA Education Minister Sue Ellery has stepped up recommendations for children to stay home from school. (ABC News: Hugh Sando)
Ms Ellery assured parents that over the next two weeks, no child would be turned away from school.
“Continuity of education for as long as possible is best,” Ms Ellery said.
“But we are encouraging everyone who can keep their children at home next week to do that.”
So what is going to happen in term two?
Children who are kept home can access online learning via the State Government’s Learning at Home website.
With fewer students on campuses, teachers, education assistants and other school staff will use the week of April 6 to prepare for what schooling in WA will look like in term two.
From April 6-9, WA parents who can’t make alternative arrangements can still send their children to school. (ABC News: Margaret Burin)
Education ministers are meeting tomorrow to discuss that longer-term model, but Ms Ellery says it will utilise physical school settings as well as distance and online education.
“I think it will be a combination of physical attendance at schools — maybe some schools, maybe all schools — plus a combination of distanced education which will be hard copy packs and online,” she said.
What about those sitting major exams this year?
For senior students, no decision has been made on cancelling exams but the Minister said it was under consideration.
She stressed no year 12 students would be disadvantaged as a result of the school closures.
What are non-public schools doing?
Independent and Catholic schools would introduce their own suitable arrangements, a statement from the WA Government said.
Late on Thursday, Catholic Education Western Australia confirmed it was following the Government’s advice by asking parents to keep their children at home by close of school on March 27 if at all possible.
It said schools would be officially concluding the term on April 3, with the exception of seven schools in the Kimberley which were all closing from March 27.
Does this impact childcare centres?
At this stage childcare centres and places offering after-school care are to operate as normal.
Ms Ellery said while official medical advice that students are safe to go to school had not changed, these adjustments were about supporting staff and giving them time to prepare for the upcoming term.