WEDNESDAY, April 15
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he does not want children “giving up a whole year of their learning” and has urged teachers not to force parents into a decision between home schooling and “putting food on the table”.
In a social media video released today Mr Morrison made a direct appeal to teachers to reopen schools after the Easter break, saying “the education of our children hangs in the balance”.
“We will lose many things in the course of fighting this virus,” he said.
“One thing that I know teachers are united on, with their parents, is we do not want one of those things to be the loss of a child’s education, giving up a whole year of their learning.”
Education departments across Australia have announced a shift to online learning in term two as schools seek to maximise physical distancing.
Term 2 starts for Victorian students today, Queensland children are due back on Monday and NSW schools will reopen on April 27, however, students are being told to learn from home unless they are deemed vulnerable and their parents are essential workers.
The states have different interpretations of how the rulings apply.
But with the International Monetary Fund warning the COVID-19 pandemic could cause the steepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, governments are trying to limit damage to markets amid harsh public health measures.
New Treasury figures released this week forecast Australia’s jobless rate will double in the June quarter from 5.1 per cent to 10 per cent.
The Government’s $130 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy program would head off a peak of 15 per cent, Treasury’s estimates show.
“We cannot allow a situation where parents are forced to choose between putting food on the table through their employment, to support their kids and their kids’ education,” Mr Morrison said.
“The education of our children hangs in the balance.”
Mr Morrison repeated health advice that the risk of COVID-19 spreading among school-aged children was very low.
He said, while returning to a classroom may not be possible for all teachers, it was important students had a safe place to learn.
“Our nation is very grateful for the work that you’re doing as our teachers, and we need you more than ever,” he said.
In other COVID 19 news:
- The battle against coronavirus is going hi-tech, with Australians to be asked to download a phone app that will monitor their movements – but only with their express permission. The Federal Government believes restrictions on the community could be eased in the months ahead if there’s more testing, greater surveillance of those infected by the coronavirus and much faster tracing of those they’ve had contact with It is developing a mobile phone app with the private sector to help monitor Australians’ daily interactions. The ABC reported that it understands the app will be ready in a fortnight but the Government believes it would need at least 40 per cent of Australians to voluntarily sign up for it to be effective. The app would be opt-in only and not mandatory.
- The death of a 91-year-old woman in Tasmania brings Australia’s death toll to 62, as 66 new cases of coronavirus are recorded across Australia in the past 24 hours.
- Around the world, New York’s death toll has risen above 10,000 as global cases approach 2 million, France and India have extended their lockdowns until May, and Donald Trump says he won’t fire his top expert on infectious diseases.
- Queensland is expected to record its 1,000th case of COVID-19 today, as authorities continue to report a steady reduction in the number of new daily infections in the state. Paul Glasziou, the director of Bond University’s Institute for Evidence-Based Healthcare, said Queensland was faring well. “Despite somewhat less-stringent lockdowns compared to New South Wales and Victoria, we have the same sort of rise and fall,” he said.
- The Ruby Princess cruise ship will now be the subject of a special commission of inquiry, as well as a criminal investigation. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has appointed Sydney silk Bret Walker — who successfully appealed against George Pell’s conviction in the High Court — to conduct the inquiry.
- After weeks of holding out hope that the Tour de France would be able to go ahead as planned, the world’s most famous cycling race was finally added to the list of sporting events postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The three-week race could still take place this year, however, with French newspapers reporting late Tuesday that a new start date has been set for August. Both L’Equipe and Le Parisien said organisers are now hoping to stage the race from August 29 to September 20.
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