Decentralisation and Regional Education Minister Andrew Gee has welcomed new advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) on reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission in boarding schools.
The statement published on 17 June will assist boarding schools in preparing well-informed risk management plans for re-opening and safely increasing student occupancy numbers, in consultation with their state or territory education department.
Minister Gee said the advice was crucial to ensuring students, particularly those from country Australia, don’t get left behind in their studies.
“Our Aussie teachers have done an amazing job in remotely supporting the education needs of children during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there’s no substitute for the face-to-face learning offered in our boarding schools.
The AHPPC advice sets out pragmatic steps to help boarding schools and other residential facilities manage the risks of COVID-19. The requirement to keep dormitory accommodation occupancy levels to 25 per cent capacity has been relaxed, with boarding schools now required to develop comprehensive risk management plans to lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission and promote good health, hygiene and physical distancing.
“Boarding schools are encouraged to consider a range of strategies to ensure the safe return of students, with particular focus on hygiene practices, visitor management and the ongoing mental health and well-being of students,” Minister Gee said.
“With low infection rates across regional Australia, it makes sense to relax boarding school restrictions and get our country kids back into the classroom. The relaxing of these restrictions is a win for students and our boarding schools, which have been struggling through COVID-19.”