The Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA) acknowledges the work of the federal Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education and Minister for Emergency Management and National Recovery and Resilience, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, in expediting the development of a National Code on Boarding School Students and facilitating its agreement by National Cabinet on 17 September 2021.
‘The Senator and her staff are to be congratulated for the speed with which they consulted with parents and schools on the impact of COVID-19 closures on regional families whose children attend boarding schools and set in train the important first step in finding cross-border solutions,’ said AHISA CEO, Ms Beth Blackwood.
‘It is understood that details of implementation of the Code will be decided at a jurisdictional level,’ said Ms Blackwood. ‘But boarding schools and families now have a nationally agreed platform from which to negotiate travel exemptions with state and territory governments.’
Ms Blackwood said the Code also offered clear guidelines for families on how to prepare for safe border crossings.
‘With the help of their wider school communities, boarding schools have pulled out all stops to support students who have not been able to travel home during lockdowns or holidays,’ said Ms Blackwood. ‘Even so, being apart from their family for long periods has added to the anxiety of boarding students during the pandemic. It has been particularly hard on younger students and distressing for their parents. The Code offers hope that, through dedicated staff in state and territory departments, governments can now network effectively to map safe cross-border travel options for boarders and their parents.’