QUEENSLAND’S Catholic school students will be learning at home for the first five weeks of Term 2, with schools only open for the children of essential workers.
The measures are in line with arrangements announced by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Queensland Catholic Education Commission executive director Dr Lee-Anne Perry said Catholic schools had spent many weeks preparing for the possibility that Term 2 would involve most students learning at home.
“Catholic schools are ready to support students in their learning and also to support families as they tackle a new way of educating their children,” Dr Perry said.
“Children of essential workers and vulnerable children will be able to attend their Catholic school in line with the arrangements at state schools.
“We are pleased the Premier and Education Minister have announced the arrangements for a five week block, so schools, families and students have some certainty in the weeks ahead.”
Dr Perry said Catholic schools were focused on providing students and families with the support they needed to keep young people engaged with their learning and maintain their wellbeing.
“Schools continue to also carefully manage those staff who may be at high risk from the virus and to provide appropriate arrangements for them,” she said.
“Learning outside the school grounds will look very different from school to school and year level to year level.
“Every Catholic school will meet the coming challenges in the best way for the needs of their students and staff.
“QCEC continues to work closely with health and education authorities in supporting Catholic schools to navigate their way through the pandemic crisis.”
QCEC has welcomed the State Government’s announcement that it will make community kindergartens free to families for Term 2.
More than 30 stand-alone Catholic kindergartens around the state are set to share in the $17 million funding announced by Education Minister Grace Grace.
“Community kindergarten has been part of Queensland for over 100 years and we want to ensure that a strong kindergarten sector can continue to operate to support families and children, including children with disabilities during COVID-19,” Ms Grace said.
“Just as importantly, we want to ensure there is a viable community kindergarten sector up and ready to go once we get through COVID-19 pandemic.”
Dr Perry said it was important that community kindergartens could remain viable.
“Our youngest learners need to have stability and continuity of their learning through these uncertain times,” Dr Perry said.
“This funding ensures that families who have chosen community kindergartens, such as our Catholic kindergartens, won’t be forced to look at other options.
“Research tells us how incredibly important learning in the early years is for all children.”
Dr Perry said ensuring the survival of community kindergartens also played an important part in keeping communities together during the pandemic.
“Our community kindergartens are wonderful places of learning but also places where young families get to know each other, children form some of their first friendships and we find there is a great spirit of commitment to supporting the kindergarten,” she said.
“Keeping this spirit alive during this time of isolation will help to build resilience in our children and our communities.”