ACT students returned from South East Queensland allowed to attend school

Students under stay-at-home orders in the ACT are allowed to attend school and outside of school care if they wear a mask. Picture: Shutterstock
Students under stay-at-home orders in the ACT are allowed to attend school and outside of school care if they wear a mask. Picture: Shutterstock

ACT students returning from Covid-affected areas of Queensland are allowed to attend school without being tested, sparking anxiety among teachers that the virus could get into ACT schools.

The Australian Education Union ACT branch wrote to Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith on Wednesday pointing out an apparent discrepancy between the stay-at-home orders in South East Queensland and the advice for families who had returned to the ACT from the hot spot since 21 July.

Students in the ACT are allowed to attend their usual school and out of school hours care arrangements if they cannot study remotely or their parents and guardians need to do essential work or study.

Students aged 12 and over must wear a mask when they leave their house.

The rules are tighter for students who live and study in the 11 local government areas covered by the Queensland stay-at-home orders.

Only children of essential workers or those who needed to attend school because of vulnerable circumstances are permitted to attend in these areas.

An ACT government spokeswoman said people under stay-at-home orders should monitor for symptoms for at least 14 days after they have left the Covid-affected area.

"Should they experience any symptoms, however mild, they must get a COVID-19 test and isolate until they receive a negative result," the spokeswoman said.

"Should the risk profile change for South East Queensland, ACT Health would review the requirements, and strengthen the restrictions, as required."

Picture: Shutterstock

Picture: Shutterstock

Queensland chief health officer Jeanette Young said on Thursday she was hopeful restrictions would lift on Sunday, August 8. The stay-at-home orders for ACT residents who have returned from South East Queensland would lift at the same time.

The public school teachers' union were told their concerns would be raised with the ACT's Chief Health Officer.

The Independent Education Union NSW/ACT branch secretary Mark Northam said his union supported the health directions of the ACT as they were consistent with the rules in NSW.

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Teachers around the country are increasingly worried as many cases in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria have been connected to schools.

Both the independent school teacher union and the NSW Teachers Federation, which represent public school teachers, have been lobbying for NSW authorities to rethink plans to return year 12 students in the greater Sydney lockdown zone to school by August 16.

The unions wrote in a joint statement that face-to-face learning for year 12 HSC students should be delayed to August 28 if it is safe to do so and that trial exams should be held remotely.

"We are reminded daily that workplaces and human interaction are the main contributors to increased transmissions in the community. Schools are workplaces and, as teachers, our business is human interaction," the statement said.

"The NSW government has recently described NSW as being in a state of "national emergency". The decision to return HSC students in the Greater Sydney area to schools in mid-August is dangerous, unsafe, and unwise."

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This story Confusion over Covid stay-at-home orders for ACT school students first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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