(Australian Associated Press)
Most Australian students will complete term two online as the nation’s education ministers thrash out a plan for those in their final year of school.
Medical experts insist schools are still safe, but parents are being urged to keep their kids home if they can.
“For the majority of children it will be online learning for term two,” Education Minister Dan Tehan told ABC radio.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there was no international medical data suggesting a big risk to children by sending them to school.
The most pressing concern is for teachers and staff.
Mr Morrison said health advice around schools was driven by occupational health and safety.
Australia’s education ministers met on Tuesday to devise a national framework for the next six months.
Later this week, they will meet again to discuss the thorny issue of what to do with year 12 students who will miss out on months of face-to-face teaching.
Mr Tehan says all options are on the table for final year students.
Year 12 exams are expected to be postponed until at least December and universities will likely be asked to delay the start of the 2021 academic year.
But Mr Tehan effectively ruled out an extra year of school for Year 12 students.
“Every state and territory education minister – and it’s my strong view as well – do not want to see that,” he said.
“We want to make sure that we can get as many students through this year as we possibly can.”
Mr Tehan’s personal preference is adjusting ATAR scores across the country to account for COVID-19 or changing the university assessment system.
Universities have already started talking to schools about how to make sure there is a clear pathway for 2020 school leavers.
Universities already use a range of techniques such as interviews, recommendations from schools, and assessing a student’s academic record across the whole of year 11 and 12 to decide if they are suited to a particular course.