Schools stop assemblies and excursions

McAuley students Hixsen, Taiyo and Lexi washing their hands with hand sanitiser before recess on Thursday morning.

On Wednesday at a media conference in Canberra discussing the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australian schools will continue to remain open based on current health advice being provided by health authorities and professionals.

Schools across the Snowy Valleys region are remaining vigilant about the coronavirus and are continuing to follow the instructions provided by the Department of Education, NSW Health and the government. New regulations have led to assemblies being cancelled and other large group events.

McAuley Catholic Central School Principal Eamonn Moore said on Wednesday that their school is taking a number of precautions including frequent hand washing as well as providing students with water bottles to limit the use of bubblers.

The school has had a number of events cancelled including their National Day Against Bullying which was scheduled for today, all their sporting events, and all their religious events in the lead up to Easter.

McAuley continues to follow advice from relevant authorities, and Mr Moore said that “we just have to wait and see and do what we’re asked.”

“Let’s just look after our really vulnerable people in the community and be aware of those who are unwell or elderly and just take care of one another,” he said.

At Tumut High, the Mountain Bike Group’s excursion to the opening of the Tumbarumba to Rosewood Rail Trail in early April has been cancelled.

Adelong Public School has also had a number of cancellations including their P&C Street Stall, their Friday sausage sizzle meal deals, and their Breakfast club.

At St Joseph’s in Adelong, Principal Kirsty Beaven said that the school is constantly receiving updates from Catholic Education, with the current directive being that if a student or staff member is sick, they should not attend school.

“There is so much media coverage at the moment about the coronavirus and I guess the biggest message that is coming through is that we need to make sure that our children are not overwhelmed or worried about this health issue, after what has already been an overwhelming time for students in recent months,” she wrote in the last school newsletter.

The Prime Minister said on Wednesday that the current health advice, supported by all the premiers, all the chief ministers and the federal government, is that schools should remain open.

“There are a number of reasons for this. The first one is that the virus operates very differently amongst younger people. It has a different manifestation amongst younger people and that presents a very different health challenge to the broader population,” he said.

“There is only one reason your kids shouldn’t be going to school and that is if they are unwell. As parents, you are in the best position to know if your children are unwell. Don’t leave it to the teacher to work that out when they arrive.”

Chief Medical Officer Dr Brendan Murphy said that “it’s in the best interest of our children and the nation at this time to keep schools open.”

“There may be occasions when there’s a big outbreak in a community that some local school closures might be necessary. But at this time, across the community, our view is that schools should stay open,” Dr Murphy said.

He said that sick students and teachers should not attend school, and that very good hand hygiene should be practiced as well as social distancing where possible.

The Department of Education implemented enhanced cleaning in schools from Wednesday, and will continue to be in regular contact with all principals to understand current levels of supplies of soap and hygiene products.