NO TRAVEL: Overseas school trips have been put on hold due to coronavirus. Photo: Kingaroy State High School Facebook
NO TRAVEL: Overseas school trips have been put on hold due to coronavirus. Photo: Kingaroy State High School Facebook Contributed

New measures to prevent coronavirus in Burnett schools

ALL official overseas travel by state school students and staff has been halted until further notice due to the ongoing threat of coronavirus, and many South Burnett schools have been directly affected.

Education Minister Grace Grace said the Director-General of the Department of Education issued the directive for all international destinations other than New Zealand.

"The decision was made with the health, safety, and wellbeing of students and staff in mind," she said.

"In consultation with the Chief Health Officer and Queensland Health it was decided that further protective action to contain Covid-19 was needed to minimise risk to Queensland students and staff."

Kingaroy State High School is one of the larger South Burnett schools impacted by the ongoing threat of coronavirus.

The school had two international trips planned for the year.

The first one was Kingaroy High originally had plans to host Fudooka High School, Japan, in late July to early August. This is following on from when Fudooka High School hosted their students in 2019.

They haven't yet received confirmation from the Japanese school in regards to this.

Kingaroy High usually send a group of students to Vietnam every two years, and were planning to do this in December this year.

At this stage the school is in limbo and are waiting for further advice later in the year.

Year 12 student and school vice captain Asha Cooper went on the last Vietnam trip, in 2018, and said it was very sad the students might miss it due to the threat of coronavirus.

"I think the coronavirus has had a huge affect on education," Asha said.

"Both at universities and schools.

"For both you have groups of students that are unable to come back to Australia to continue their studies and then also students who aren't able to leave Australia for education based trips.

"I did an international trip with the school and took part in a community project in Vietnam and personally got a lot out of it. 

"This years trip is with the same company and was going to be really similar and a really great learning opportunity for the students who get to go."

Asha said for her the trip was life changing and a huge part of her education.

"The experience made me a really more socially aware person and now I feel like I have slightly more of a grasp on the issues that are happening around the world and in other counties," she said.

"I think that not being able to take part in those trips because of the coronavirus is really going to impact students. They're not going to be able to have those same life changing experiences and won't get to learn from it.

"The coronavirus is affecting our education just as much as our economy."

Asha said her education as a high school student was about much more than classroom exams and studying a textbook.

"It was my first time going overseas and getting to do it as a school project was great," she said.

"We had to plan and budget everything ourselves.

"I learnt so much and feel like now I'm super prepared for travelling in the real world thanks to this school project.

"It's really hard for us because the younger years spend ages looking forward to this school project and then also work really hard to fundraise and now it's not going to happen."

Kingaroy State High School has also sent out an informative letter on how they're dealing with and preventing coronavirus to their parents and school community. Other South Burnett state schools have done the same.

However it's not just our local state schools who have been affected.

St John's Lutheran School Principal Karyn Bjelke-Petersen said they were taking measures against the ongoing Coronavirus threat.

"Like every large school community, St John's is monitoring the situation closely and reinforcing the importance of good personal hygiene with staff and students," she said.

"A number of school camps are scheduled to take place during the next few weeks and we're working with relevant school governing bodies and seeking their expert advice as part of our planning process for these excursions.

"St John's will continue to monitor the situation and update the school community as needed."

Education Minister Grace Grace said the final decision to halt all overseas travel aligned Queensland with other state education systems.

"Schools should manage the impact of this directive locally and communicate this decision to parents and caregivers as a matter of priority," she said.

"I recognise that this directive may cause some disruption to planned tours and I would ask that schools work with their travel agent and insurers as appropriate."

Ms Grace said the Department of Education had continued to follow the advice of Queensland Health in relation to the management of the significant health issue.

"Any decision to close a school or early childhood centre would not be taken lightly and would be based on advice from the Chief Health Officer," she said.

"It would also include a full assessment of any risks to the health and welfare of staff, students, and children.

"Continuity of learning is an extremely important consideration in our response planning.

"As in other disaster and emergency management events, the department has online learning materials and virtual classroom capability that can be used by schools where appropriate to support sustained curriculum delivery."