Some principals have come up with a way to block children from returning to classrooms despite schools being 85 per cent empty.
Some principals have come up with a way to block children from returning to classrooms despite schools being 85 per cent empty.

How principals are blocking kids from classrooms

NEW school rules will exempt students from COVID-19 social distancing - but some principals are blocking kids from class by changing the definition of "essential worker''.

Education Queensland has axed its previous advice to halve class sizes to one teacher and 12 students in an average classroom.

Fresh guidelines issued this week tell principals to "open windows to promote airflow where possible'' and to keep adults 1.5m apart at all times

The memo says the latest health advice is that "social distancing'' of four square metres for each person in an enclosed space, or a 1.5m distance between people outdoors, "is not required for students during classroom activities''.

"Social distancing measures remain an important consideration for schools to reduce transmission and should occur where practicable,'' it says.

Staff should "avoid sharing small office spaces'', the memo says, noting that "it is important that parents not gather before or after school in the car park, outside classrooms or at the school gate''.

Despite the backdown on keeping classrooms half-empty, some schools are still refusing to let the children of working parents go back to class.

The memo says that all students must "learn from home'' unless they are deemed to be vulnerable, or are the "children of essential workers on days when they are not able to be supervised at home and no other arrangements can be made''.

But The Courier-Mail can reveal that some schools are rejecting any students whose working parents don't have "frontline jobs''.

One single dad struggling to keep his business afloat asked Education Queensland if he could send his teenage son back to a Brisbane high school this week, as he was unable to "supervise'' his son's learning.

Some Queensland principals have changed the definition of an “essential worker” to keep kids from returning to class.
Some Queensland principals have changed the definition of an “essential worker” to keep kids from returning to class.

He said an Education Queensland official from a regional office told him he could send his son to school, but was overruled by the deputy principal.

"The deputy principal told me, 'We don't take instructions from Queensland Education, we take them from the Premier,'' the man, who did not want his name published to protect his child's privacy, said yesterday.

"Students who are currently at school have no supervision at home because their parents are frontline essential workers,'' the deputy principal wrote in an email seen by The Courier-Mail.

"When there is an adult present in the house, even if they are working from home, that is considered supervision.

"Please prioritise what you need to do with your work first.''

The father said he had spent nearly three hours one night trying to help his 14-year-old son with a maths lesson.

"He became quite upset and said, 'I can't learn this way, I need a teacher,'' the father said.

 

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas

The dad said the schooling snub had annoyed him so much that he joined the LNP on Saturday in protest.

The Courier-Mail asked Education Queensland yesterday to provide a list of jobs considered as "frontline essential work''.

It also asked why schools are not accepting more students if they are no longer required to "social distance''.

In a statement, Education Queensland said 14 to 15 per cent of students were attending school this week.

"Teachers are expected to be teaching students, not parents,'' it said.

"Schools will remain open for children essential workers and vulnerable children.

"Onsite supervision, with access to the school's home-based learning materials, will be available at all schools for these students.''

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan yesterday said most parents want their kids back in the classrooms

"It's safe for students to be at school, (and) it's safe for teachers to be at school, with the right protocols in place,'' he said.

Originally published as How principals are blocking kids from classrooms



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