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4 Apr 2020 6:23
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  •   Home > News > International

    Coronavirus prompts SA Government to extend school holidays to allow for boosted online learning

    South Australian schools and pre-schools will be pupil-free in the week before the Easter holidays, with the SA Government moving to online learning in term two.

    South Australian schools and pre-schools will be pupil-free in the week before the Easter holidays, with the State Government announcing a move to online learning in term two.

    The SA Government said four pupil-free days before Good Friday will give teachers time to prepare to transition to "flexible learning" at the start of term two.

    Education Minister John Gardner said schools will remain open in a "modified environment" for the children of parents who have to work, and for vulnerable children.

    The measures are expected to apply across the Catholic and independent school sectors.

    Mr Gardner said absenteeism across the board had reached 25 per cent and attempts were being made to move towards a remote learning model.

    However schools will remain open for those families who need.

    "It's very, very challenging to deliver an effective model of education when you're deal with two cohorts in an in-classroom environment and a learning-from-home environment," Mr Gardner said.

    "We are giving these four pupil-free days to ensure that our teachers and our schools can become familiar with the resources we are providing for them.

    "The message for parents is this — if you are capable of supervising your child at home so they can learn from home, we are now supporting you to do so.

    "Some of those students are going to be learning from home, some of them are going to be learning at school, supervised, but some of the teachers will be doing the instruction working from home. Some of them will be in the school site.

    "The model of learning must be consistent across those cohorts."

    Some schools have 'majority' of students absent

    The announcement follows similar moves by other states including Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland.

    Queensland schools will become "student free" from next week, but will remain open for the children of essential workers.

    Victorian schools began their holidays early, while parents in NSW have been told to keep children at home if they can.

    In the ACT, many children are currently at home, with exceptions for families where parents are essential workers.

    Yesterday, South Australia's Department for Education launched the Our Learning SA website for "families who are currently choosing to educate their children at home due to the current COVID-19 crisis".

    Mr Gardner said daily absenteeism pre-coronavirus was typically around 10 per cent, but that had more than doubled in the past two weeks.

    "Some schools … are operating in an almost business-as-usual environment in some communities, and some schools [have] very substantial absenteeism — the majority of their students absent," he said.

    "There are different challenges in different schools."

    Until now, authorities have insisted on the need to keep students at school to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

    Mr Gardner said, despite the apparent change, that remained the case, and that the "unambiguous advice" was for "schools and preschools to remain open".

    Some schools in South Australia have already been forced to temporarily close because of coronavirus cases.

    On Tuesday, Unley High School announced it was moving learning online for the remainder of the term after a teacher contracted COVID-19.

    © 2020 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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