Parents warned: Students to be sent home, schools closed
STATE schools have warned parents they could be forced to send their children home from the front gate if they're not vulnerable or from families of essential workers, pre-empting a spike in school attendance.
It comes amid fears of an attendance spike and ongoing controversy about whether schools are safe and should be open for all students.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday said schools do not have to follow the "four square metres per person" rule in classrooms, but still need to limit student numbers.
"The recommendation was smaller class sizes, not smaller classrooms …. but there is no requirement from the medical expert panel that there be a four square metre per person rule enforced in those classrooms."
After state-wide outages of the Queensland Education Department's online learning platform, parents of Marshall Road State School students received an emailed letter urging them not to send their children to school unless they were frontline essential workers and could not organise supervision.
"We had a large number of children today, if we grow much bigger then we may have to start sending children home or more drastically consider closing the school," the emailed letter said.
"This is because it will not be possible to maintain safe social distancing arrangements on site as required by Queensland Health i.e. a maximum of 12 students and 1 teacher in a general classroom.
"If we reach 40 per cent attendance (200 students) then we will be beyond our capacity to socially distance the children safely I.e. maximum of 12 students in each classroom."
Meanwhile a letter sent to Baringa State School Parents yesterday starkly reminded parents, "if you are NOT a child of Essential Workers/Vulnerable children you are simply not permitted to attend Baringa State Primary School," the letter said.
However, a Department of Education spokesman said "no child will ever be put in an unsafe position" at a Queensland school.
Yesterday student attendance increased by one per cent up to 13 per cent of all state students at schools, with ongoing issues with online learning, including issues with Microsoft Office systems nationally.
It comes amid ongoing pressure from the Opposition that all children should be able to go to school.
Ms Frecklington said the Premier should take full responsibility for the "unclear rules about school".
"This is not the fault of Principals, they are simply acting under Labor's guidelines," she said.
"Threatening to turn children away and shutting schools is totally unacceptable."
An Education Department spokesman schools were working with families to support learning, and it was important that students who attend school feel welcomed and supported.
"However, the department's advice around school attendance has not changed and remains consistent with the expert health advice, which is in line with the seven key principles for schools outlined by the National Cabinet.
"Only children of essential workers and vulnerable children identified by the school should be physically attending school.
"It's up to everyone to ensure we continue adhering to the health advice so that we can continue to limit the spread of this virus."
At a press conference Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday said it would be "absolutely irresponsible" to fully reopen schools when social distancing couldn't be practised, saying it would put teachers' lives in risk, while there is still community transmission of COVID-19.
Originally published as Parents warned: Students to be sent home, schools closed