To: ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr
Don't return to face-to-face learning in ACT Schools on 18 May
Dear Chief Minister
The resounding call amongst parents in the ACT is to keep our schools closed to face-to-face learning for the remainder of Term 2. The arrangements that are currently in place adequately provide for all students - those who can stay home have home-based online learning well established, and those who cannot stay home have campuses they may attend to undertake supervised online learning.
It is incredibly short-sighted to abandon this arrangement at such an early stage, given that we have not yet reached the full force of winter illness, and that Covid-19 is still a largely unknown quantity with a high likelihood of a second wave.
I respectfully refer you to the abundance of scientific literature that is being published daily on why children are not immune and other more alarming complications arising from infection, including the relatively new inflammatory disease that is akin to Kawasaki Disease in children. There is also an abundance of scientific reporting which concludes that reopening schools and relaxing social distancing measures would be premature.
The decision to reopen ACT schools to face-to-face learning seems heavily biased toward economic considerations which would surely suffer an even more sinister blow if upon rebooting schools and workplaces we need to once again shut them down.
Only days ago you assured ACT parents that online, home-based learning would continue for Term 2. Only days ago you stated that reopening schools was not "a race". Only days ago you said that it would be prudent to wait and observe the ramifications of reopening schools in other states before making a decision.
As a matter of urgency, you need to honour your own statements and you need to honour ACT teachers, parents and their families by withdrawing your staged plans to return to face-to-face learning in our schools from May 18.
Why is this important?
Once face-to-face learning becomes the focus again, we will no longer have the option to keep our children and families safe, as online learning will not be supported. As a parent who shares their children with an estranged partner I do not have the option to permanently homeschool, as their father would not agree to such an arrangement - therefore, once education returns to school campuses I will have no other option than to send them into what I consider a high-risk setting.