Friday, 19 June 2020

Queensland Senator Susan McDonald has thanked the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee for acting on her attempts to have restrictions on boarding school students eased.

Senator McDonald wrote to the Health Minister Greg Hunt after speaking with representatives of the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association and the Queensland Catholic Education Commission about boarders being stuck at home even though their schools were open for day students.

Boarding schools with dormitories were only allowed to maintain 25 per cent capacity but this has now been relaxed, provided schools, in consultation with Queensland Health, develop comprehensive management plans to lower the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

“Students were still learning at home, generally in remote areas, and often with poor connectivity,” said Senator McDonald, herself a former boarder and who has children enrolled at boarding school.

“Many of these students have been learning remotely since Term 1, and were uncertain about a return to school for Term 3 due to the guidelines for boarding facilities as determined by the AHPPC.

“However, day students, teachers and administrative staff had returned to school, and were free to circulate relatively freely within the broader community outside of school hours.

“I was advised that the boarders who had returned to school were not required to observe social distancing measures during class time and when mixing with their more socially liberated peers, but were required to adhere to socially restrictive rules once they entered the boarding facility.

“Thankfully, parents have been listened to and boarders should be getting back to see their friends, supervisors and teachers very soon.”

In a statement, the ICPA said: “We thank Senator McDonald for her support in addressing this important and worrying issue for many of our families. ICPA (Aust) appreciates her contribution in moving this forward.”