Boarders safe at school but students allowed to travel home

Boarders safe at school but students allowed to travel home

Coronavirus
FELXIBLE: Boarders are safe at school, but schools are allowing them to travel home if they're parents want them to.

FELXIBLE: Boarders are safe at school, but schools are allowing them to travel home if they're parents want them to.

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"It's not just about physical health, but also getting them home in the first place."

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SCHOOLS across the country are being flexible with their boarding students in the wake of coronavirus and while their health is the priority, there are also concerns about how and when some students will make the long trip home.

Despite calls to close all schools, the government says the current advice is to leave them open, saying children are less like to catch or spread the virus in a school environment, and that sending kids home could take essential services out of the workforce, who would be forced to stay home to look after their children.

A handful of boarding schools have closed, including Toowoomba Grammar and Kinross Wolaroi in Orange, but the vast majority are following the government's advice.

Australian Boarding Schools Association chief executive Richard Stoke said boarding schools were generally a safe place for students, given they're able to exercise more control over their movements than other schools, but schools were being flexible with remote parents who requested their kids travel home.

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"The great majority of schools are staying open, but no one is forcing boarders to stay," Mr Stokes said.

"But there are a lot of things for parents to consider. It's not just about physical health, but also getting them home in the first place.

"Some remote parents might want to get their kids on a plane home soon, while they know the flights are still running."

Mr Stokes said every situation was unique and schools had been very understanding of the needs of parents

"The boarding staff have been remarkable, they're working so bloody hard," he said.

Schools are ramping up their online capabilities and Mr Stokes said NBN Co had been in touch with remote families to make sure students had a connection for online lessons.

"Some schools have made day students stay at home for a day, to test their online set up," Mr Stokes said.

Isolated Children's Parents Association president Alana Moller urged families concerned about connectivity issues to get in touch with her organisation.

"We've in contact with NBN and all the service providers, and we're willing to assist in anyway we can," she said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has threatened to withdraw funding from private and Catholic schools that close down against government advice.

"I might be anti-intuitive, but the advice is [closing schools] could actually be a very negative thing in terms of impacting on how these curves operate," Mr Morrison said.

"That happens for two reasons. When you take children out of schools and put them back in the broader community, the ability for them to potentially engage with others increases that risk.

"The other issue is the disruption impact that can have and put at great risk the availability of critical workers such as nurses and doctors and others who are essential in the community because they would have to remain home and look after their children.

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