Monday May 4 a pupil free day in WA public school boarding facilities, with students to start returning from Tuesday May 5
The McGowan Government has taken the lead to reopen residential boarding facilities across Western Australia.
In public school residential boarding facilities, Monday May 4 will be a pupil free day with students to start returning the following day.
This follows National Cabinet’s decision today that boarding schools and school-based residential colleges can reopen where numbers can be managed safely and where health requirements can be met.
Today’s decision means there will be a facility-by-facility approach depending on a range of factors including size, capacity, current enrolments and the ability for hygiene requirements to be implemented.
Year 12 students will be able to return to every public school boarding facility.
This includes residential boarding colleges and the residential boarding available at the Colleges of Agriculture.
Those facilities that are able to cater for more students, while abiding by the health guidelines, will be able to welcome more students back.
All year groups will return to City Beach, Geraldton, Merredin and Northam Residential Colleges.
Years 10, 11 and 12 students will return to Albany, Broome, Esperance, Moora and Narrogin Residential Colleges.
Year 12 students will return to residential boarding at Cunderdin College of Agriculture.
Year 11 and 12 students will return to residential boarding at Denmark, Harvey and Narrogin Colleges of Agriculture, and all year groups will return to residential boarding at Morawa College of Agriculture.
Every public boarding facility will be supported by the Department to implement all the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee guidelines, before opening to students.
This support will include additional cleaners, cleaning supplies and staff with $343,000 being spent on cleaning time and supplies.
This will provide an additional 77 hours of cleaning per week for each facility, with extra cleaning in the morning and afternoon/evenings, as well as additional cleaning on weekends.
Principals and managers of residential colleges will be contacting families directly to provide advice on when students can return and the details about returning.
The guidelines that have been approved by National Cabinet must be implemented before students can return to any residential facility.
Catholic Education WA and independent schools will make their own decisions in line with the approved guidelines, regarding the transition of students back into their residential colleges.
(The guidelines follow comments.)
As stated by Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery:
“The Premier requested WA’s Chief Health Officer to ask the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee – AHPPC – to consider what safety measures needed to be in place to allow residential facilities to open, particularly for Year 11 and 12 students.
“So it’s pleasing that we have led the way to bring some relief to many concerned regional families.
“Parents will still have a choice as to whether to send their child back to a boarding facility however this model will allow senior students to resume face-to-face education as soon as possible.
“Students can return from Tuesday but it’s not like reopening a school.
“Some students will be able to drive but some will need to fly and the logistics will need to be worked through by each facility depending on the individual circumstances of each student.
“Those students who need to travel across regional boundaries will be able to do so via the educational exemption.
“For those students who study from home, they can continue to access distance learning models through online or hard copy packages.”
National Cabinet guidelines are:
- Student return to boarding is at the parent/caregiver’s discretion;
- Students with chronic medical conditions are advised to remain at home;
- Parents/caregivers will be required to drop their child at the front of the residential college on their return, and not enter the college with their child;
- Visitors to the college will not be permitted entry;
- Students who return to boarding will not be permitted to leave the college during term to go home to family or visit friends;
- Some normal recreational activities (such as outings and excursions) will not be available;
- All parents/carers and students will be required to agree that, in the event that instructions of college staff are not followed, the student may be denied boarding;
- In order to implement reasonable social distancing, residential facilities may operate at reduced capacity;
- All students will be accommodated in single rooms;
- Where private bathroom facilities are not available, arrangements will be made for additional cleaning;
- Dining arrangements will be reviewed to ensure appropriate social distancing and hygiene; and
- Colleges will be fully stocked with sanitisers, soap and cleaning products.