PM to teachers: Your students need you
PRIME Minister Scott Morrison will today implore teachers to return to classrooms, as he warns the education of students hangs in the balance.
The remarkable intervention firmly thrusts the impracticalities of remote learning on the agenda for National Cabinet tomorrow, and puts pressure on some states that buckled to unions in closing schools over COVID-19 fearss
While the unprecedented call to arms from the Prime Minister aims to draw upon the sense of duty held by many teachers, it also sends a strong signal to parents that their kids should go to school - and that it is safe to do so.
Term 2 starts for Victorian students today, Queenslanders are due back on Monday and NSW schools will re-open on April 27, however, students are being told to learn from home, unless their parents are essential workers. Each state has a slightly different definition of what an essential worker is, and there is a move for consensus.
The rate of new cases of coronavirus is now lower this week than when parents began taking their kids out of schools and some education unions agitated for dramatic closures.
In a video to be posted to his Facebook page this morning, Mr Morrison trumpets the role played by teachers and states how their role is "critical", especially given the "sad" fact some children, especially those of poorer families, will not learn from home.
"As our nation fights this coronavirus, your role has become even more important,'' Mr Morrison says.
"Your students and their families are relying on you more than ever.
"And as we adapt to the impact of COVID-19, the next few months will bring incredible changes for our education system," Mr Morrison says.
"The education of our children hangs in the balance.
"During these times, many students will continue distance learning.
"It's a choice that they may have, some more than others.
"But we know for some families and students this won't be possible.
"And their education, what they learn, is at great risk of suffering this year.
"This will particularly be the case for families who are disadvantaged and on lower incomes.
"It's so important that children are able to keep physically going to school, particularly for these kids.
"The kids of workers with no suitable care arrangements at home to support their learning.
"It is even more essential for those vulnerable students who we know won't get an education at home. It's a sad reality, but we know it's true and we need to face it.
"These children need you and for our schools to remain open. They need you as our great teachers more than ever.
"We cannot allow a situation where parents are forced to choose between putting food on the table through their employment, to support their kids and their kids' education.
"And I know teachers don't want to force those choices on the parents either, because if we do, of course, thousands of jobs would be lost, livelihoods forsaken."
Mr Morrison says at-risk teachers needed to be protected, or will have their own caring arrangements, and a plan for them was being worked on.
"The expert medical advice throughout the coronavirus to date has not changed when it comes to the safety of children going to school.
"We will lose many things in the course of fighting this virus. One thing that I know teachers are united on, with their parents, is we do not want one of those things to be the loss of a child's education, giving up a whole year of their learning."
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said yesterday the number of new Australian cases of coronavirus continued to fall. National Cabinet will be briefed by medicos on the scenarios to lifting restrictions, which looks set to happen in a matter of weeks.
"We have been asked by the National Cabinet to give quite detailed advice in relation to what we should do next,'' Professor Kelly said.
"We've been very successful as a nation, working together to flatten that curve.
"The question is what do we do next?
"We definitely don't want to just open up everything that we've dampened down on so far because we've seen in other countries what has happened with an uncontrolled epidemic and we cannot afford to do that in Australia.
"And so there will be a range of matters that we will put to National Cabinet to consider, but particularly the strategies moving forward and then within that would be what to look at in terms of the restrictions which may be least risky in relation to increasing the number of cases and on the other hand having the most benefit for the wider society."
Originally published as PM to teachers: Your students need you