South Australia’s schools will embrace a “hybrid” model with some students coming back to the classroom and others learning online for at least two weeks, SA Premier announced.
In the wake of a spike in Omicron cases, schools will open their doors on schedule on Jan. 31 to “all essential children, essential workers, and also vulnerable children.”
Students in key year levels, including pre-school, reception, one, seven, eight and 12 will head back to face-to-face learning at school on Feb. 2.
Meanwhile, other students will learn online for the first two weeks before coming back to the classroom on Feb. 14.
Premier Steven Marshall on Thursday said the “hybrid” model has received strong support from the health and education officials, hailing it as a “solution which gets the balance right.”
“The reality is there were no easy solutions. There was no simple, clear-cut way of doing this,” Marshall said on Thursday.
“While we understand there will be disruptions to the start of 2022 and it’s going to be challenging for a lot of families, we have put our kids first with this school’s plan—they learn better face to face and that is what we’ve worked hard to achieve.”
Schools would remain open even when new cases emerge among staff or students, the SA Premier added.
“We want to get as many people into the classroom as possible but we’ve also got to be mindful of making sure it’s safe for students, for our staff and, more broadly, the entire state.”
However, SA Primary Principal’s Association President Angela Falkenberg questioned the feasibility of the “hybrid” model citing teachers’ “workload issue,” while noting that principals across the state were asking for greater transparency of the back-to-school plan.
“There are some parents saying, ‘well I’m going to keep my child home’ and if school is open but parents are choosing to keep them home then the responsibility for the learning is on the parent,” she told InDaily on Jan. 10.
“There are teachers saying ‘what might be happening?,’ there are parents saying ‘what do you think will happen and so sometimes principals are the recipient of a lot of questions which just becomes exhausting.”
The announcement came as SA reported another 3,669 new COVID-19 infections and four more deaths, two men in their 80s and two women in their 70s.
Those who test positive will have to report the result through an online system and could be fined A$1,000 if failing to do so.
Marshall on Wednesday stressed the importance of mandatory reporting, saying getting as much real data into the system as possible would help model the likely trajectory of the current outbreak.