Queensland students won’t return to class until February — and some parents aren’t happy


The Queensland government's decision to delay the start of the school year has left parents and guardians frustrated and scrambling to prepare.

Key points:

  • Queensland schools will start on February 7 to avoid clashing with a predicted COVID-19 peak
  • Some parents are worried about finding child care during the extra weeks off
  • Schools will open for vulnerable children and children of essential workers

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced yesterday students would return to school from February 7 instead of January 24, two weeks later than planned.

Year 11 and 12 students will start remote learning from January 31.

To accommodate the changes, the school year will finish a week later on December 16 instead of December 9.

The decision was made as health officials said modelling showed the Omicron wave would peak in the last week of January and the first week of February.

Authorities want to avoid sending young, unvaccinated children to school in that period, and also expect many staff will be infected with the virus or forced to quarantine, causing shortages.

Education Minister Grace Grace said the state government wanted to give as much certainty as possible to families.

"We don't want parents having to have snap closures of schools because we don't have staff or because there's an outbreak," she said.

"It's best that we look at this probably under the best health advice that we can get in the country."

Like other states and territories, Queensland starts vaccinating children aged five to 11 from today.

LIVE UPDATES: Read our blog for the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemicDelay creates challenges for children with learning difficulties

Sarah Bone has three children, including her 12-year-old son Hayden who has ADHD.

She said it did not seem like the government had thought about how the delay would impact children with learning difficulties.

"My son lives with ADHD and other issues and it's always been a challenge to get him back to school," Ms Bone said.

"Another two weeks and just a lack of consistency and the uncertainty that this brings will make it really difficult and challenging when the time does come to return to school."

"The longer off … he has always, and neurodiverse children have, the more challenging it will be to return and get back into that routine."

Sarah Bone says the move creates extra uncertainty for families like hers.(ABC News: Craig Andrews )

The government said it was hoping there would be enough staff to supervise vulnerable children and children of essential workers.

Ms Bone said there needed to be more concrete information about the help available.

"I think the reality is this wasn't unexpected, but when we deliver news like that we need to also come up with information like what is the support plan, what else is there for these families during this time.

"It's not just this is the expectation on families, it should be these are services and support to help you through these difficult times."

'Logistical nightmare'

Sarah Dunne has a 10-year-old son, Cian, and a 14-year-old daughter, Lydia.

Ms Dunne works at veterinary clinic and is studying veterinary nursing and her husband is a major project developer.

Sarah Dunne says she and her husband are scrambling to find child care for their children.(ABC News: Craig Andrews )

She said they were scrambling to find child care and make plans after finding out about the delay.

"I was extremely surprised and very frustrated because it's going to throw a huge spanner in the works, with both my husband and I working and trying to get the kids back to school and trying to find child care and things like that," she said.

"We haven't actually got any family in Brisbane so it's a logistical nightmare."

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She said for her and many other families, the delay would take a toll on their mental health.

"We were quite anxious about going back after lockdown and things like that last year and now setting it back another couple of weeks, it's going to bring all that to the surface.

"I think it's going to be slightly more interesting when the time comes to go back to school. Most of them don't really like homeschooling so that's not even an option."

She said Queensland was supposed to be living with COVID-19, not "shying away from it", and the delay to the school year was stressful and disruptive.

"It's draining for the whole family," she said.

"It's hard to put into words, but it's just an extra thing to have to think about."

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Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news



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