NEW RULES: Home-school parents’ truancy risk



SCHOOLS have warned home-school parents they could be reported to police or Child Safety unless their kids email teachers every morning during the coronavirus crisis.

Students learning from home will be expected to wear school uniforms for some live-streamed lessons when "skeleton schools'' reopen on Monday.

A new Education Queensland directive reveals that all Queensland state school students - those attending class or learning at home - must be "accounted for'' by 11am each school day.

Children of "essential workers" who can't work at home, or vulnerable children who can't be supervised at home, can go back to school from Monday.

But depending on the school, students may have different teachers, in cut-down classes.

In Queensland's biggest school, Kelvin Grove State College in Brisbane, every student - those at home as well as those in class - will be allocated a "contact teacher'' to co-ordinate their work.

Students must email their contact teacher every morning at 9am to tell them if they are at home or at school - even if they are in class - and copy the email to a parent or caregiver.

A sample email is: "Dear Ms X, I am learning from home today, Kind regards, Lee''.

If a student is sick, a parent must notify the school before 9am on the day of absence.

If the contact teacher does not hear from a student and a parent has not notified the school of an absence, the school will send a text message asking parents to "account for your child's whereabouts''.

The college has warned parents that "until you make contact with the College, your child's attendance will be recorded as an 'unexplained' absence and escalated to the year level co-ordinator''.

"If absences continue to be unexplained then the student will be referred to the year level deputy principals with possible Police and/or Child Safety involvement,'' the college says in a memo.

It says students will "stay in the same classroom at the same desk for every period each day''.

The memo reveals that high school students will not be taught the usual classroom lessons.

"There will be a limited number of students in each classroom to ensure appropriate social distancing,'' it says.

"Students will be working individually on their laptops with a teacher rostered for each period supporting students to complete their work set by their regular timetabled teacher.

"As teachers are required to supervise students who attend school as well as take care of students who are online learning the timetable can't be strictly followed.''

The memo says teachers will only respond to emails between 9am and 4.45pm on school days.

It says students will need to dress in their school uniform at home if a teacher gives "live'' lessons online through Blackboard Collaborate or OneNote.

Mr Morrison today said that he would like to send his kids back to school once face-to-face classes resume.

He told parents to be "very careful about interactions between parents and drop-offs and pickups because that's where the potential infection occurs'.

Mr Morrison said that government health experts had advised that "attendance at a school campus for education represents a very low health risk to students''.

"The advice also notes that appropriate practices must be employed at schools, like at other workplaces, to provide a safe working environment for school staff, including teachers,'' he said.

"It is accepted that during the COVID-19 crisis, alternative flexible, remote delivery of education services may be needed.''

When asked if police and Child Safety would be notified, an Education Queensland spokesman said that the safety of Queensland children is paramount.

"Under the home-based learning model parents/students must make contact with the school to ensure students are engaged with learning,'' he said.

"Schools will make contact with parents if there are concerns about student welfare or the engagement of the child in the learning program.''

Originally published as NEW RULES: Home-school parents' truancy risk