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COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020



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ISSN 2203-5249

RESEARCH PAPER SERIES, 2021-22 1 MARCH 2022

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 Dr Shannon Clark Social Policy

Contents

Introduction ................................................................................... 2

Search strategy .................................................................................... 4

Table 1: state and territory school term dates, 2020 ....................... 6

State and territory announcements—COVID-19 and schools and early childhood education .............................................................. 7

Table 2: Australian Capital Territory ................................................. 7

Table 3: New South Wales .............................................................. 13

Table 4: Northern Territory ............................................................. 26

Table 5: Queensland ........................................................................ 32

Table 6: South Australia .................................................................. 38

Table 7: Tasmania ............................................................................ 43

Table 8: Victoria............................................................................... 55

Table 9: Western Australia .............................................................. 69

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 2

Introduction This chronology summarises state and territory government schooling and early childhood education policy announcements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. It aims to provide an accessible reference resource for those interested in understanding how each jurisdiction responded to the unfolding pandemic with respect to schooling and early childhood education in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tracking the announcements across 2020 shows how state and territory governments responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in their local contexts and how they addressed pressures in terms of health, education and the economy. Broadly, measures include those aimed at:

• minimising the spread of COVID-19

• managing the educational impact of the pandemic on students and families

• supporting student wellbeing and mental health and

• stimulating the economy.

The chronology first provides a brief, high-level overview to draw together and contextualise different aspects of states’ and territories’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to schooling and early childhood education. It then outlines the search strategy and provides school term dates for 2020 as a reference. The main body of the document comprises tables for each jurisdiction which set out media releases and announcements relating to schools and early childhood education chronologically for 2020.

Schools and early childhood education in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic: overview

Minimising the spread of COVID-19: school closures and managing the return to classrooms Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread disruption to education. Most countries around the world temporarily closed educational facilities as part of efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.1 From February 2020 to January 2021, roughly the timeframe covered by this chronology, schools across the world were in country-wide closures for an average of 3.5 months.2 This rose to 5.5 months—two-thirds of an academic year—when localised or partial school closures were taken into account.3

At the beginning of the pandemic in Australia, school closures were a controversial measure for managing the spread of COVID-19. National advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and Prime Minister Scott Morrison was that schools were safe and should remain open.4

At its meeting on 23 March 2020, when Australia marked its 1000th case of COVID-19, the AHPPC stated that it did not support pre-emptive school closures at that time due to a lack of evidence of

1. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), ‘Global monitoring of school closures caused by COVID-19’, UNESCO website, accessed 28 January 2022. 2. UNESCO, UNESCO figures show two thirds of an academic year lost on average worldwide due to Covid-19 school closures, media release, 25 January 2021. 3. Ibid. 4. S Morrison (Prime Minister), Update on coronavirus measures, media release, 22 March 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 3

significant disease in children and the lack of reported major disease spreading in schools.5 The AHPPC outlined the negative impacts of school closures, including on students’ mental health and wellbeing, particularly for students from low socio-economic areas, as well as impacts on critical industries.6 The AHPPC had previously cited research that school closures could result in around 15 per cent of the total workforce and 30 per cent of the health workforce needing to take time off work to care for children.7

However, in the context of increasing social distancing requirements, restrictions on gatherings, and high anxiety about the unfolding pandemic, all states and territories announced changes to schooling arrangements. Arrangements ranged from temporarily relaxing attendance requirements, to all students being advised to stay home where possible, and schools only remaining open for children who could not learn from home.

The different arrangements for schools across the states and territories, differences between social distancing requirements in the community compared with schools, uncertainty for parents about whether to send children to school or keep them at home (for example, amid announcements that schools remained ‘open’, sometimes parents were advised to keep children at home if they could), and various timings and arrangements for the resumption of face-to-face learning (for example, the staged return of year-levels) were sources of confusion and debate.8

The process for returning students to classrooms varied across Australia as states and territories responded to the COVID-19 case numbers in their jurisdictions. In the eastern states which experienced higher caseloads, students returned to classrooms in stages, often by year groups. Other arrangements for returning to schools aimed at minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19 included staggered timetables, changed classroom arrangements, restrictions on activities, social distancing for adults on campuses, and restrictions on parents coming onto school grounds. State and territory governments also invested additional funding in hygiene measures such as higher frequency cleaning and increasing the availability of cleaning supplies, such as hand-sanitiser and soap. In 2020, Victoria was the only state to implement mask requirements for students.

Supporting students’ learning and wellbeing A major concern about school closures was their impact on student learning. The move to home learning required teachers to quickly adapt lesson plans for remote learning and state and territory education departments to develop digital learning platforms and materials. Governments also supported remote learning by providing devices and internet connections (for example, SIM cards and dongles) to families needing them. Later in 2020, some states (NSW, SA and Victoria) announced tutoring programs to support student learning following pandemic disruptions.

States and territories also responded to the impact of the pandemic on student wellbeing and mental health. Measures included funding for mental health support for young people and school-based wellbeing and mental health resources.

5. AHPPC, Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) coronavirus (COVID-19) statement on 22 March 2020, AHPPC statement, 23 March 2020. 6. Ibid. 7. AHPPC, Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) coronavirus (COVID-19) statement on 17 March 2020, AHPPC

statement, 17 March 2020. 8. J Leask and C Hooker, ‘How risk communication could have reduced controversy about school closures in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic’, Public Health Research and Practice, 30(2), June 2020, e3022007.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 4

COVID-19 disruptions were particularly acute for students in their final year of school. Adaptations aimed to ensure that Year 12 students would not be disadvantaged upon completion of their schooling, and included changes to assessment timing and processes, alternative arrangements for subjects with practical components, early offers to university based on schools’ recommendations or students’ previous results, and processes for considering educational disadvantage. A number of jurisdictions also supported school leavers to develop skills for employment through free training courses.

The pandemic also affected end-of-year school celebrations such as formals and graduations. Depending on the COVID-19 restrictions and case numbers experienced by states and territories towards the end of the year, governments announced arrangements for social distancing, capacity requirements and safety measures to enable ceremonies and events to proceed.

Schools and economic stimulus In addition to measures aimed at minimising the spread of COVID-19 and supporting students’ learning and wellbeing, schools and early learning facilities also functioned as vehicles for stimulus to assist jurisdictions’ economic recovery from the pandemic. State and territory governments implemented and/or brought forward school infrastructure and capital works programs including new schools, new facilities and school improvements. In some cases, changes were made to planning or approval processes to ‘fast track’ the rollout of projects. School infrastructure projects aimed to create job opportunities and support pipelines of skilled jobs into the future.

A precedent for school infrastructure spending to stimulate the economy can be seen in the Australian Government’s response to the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. The Building the Education Revolution (BER) program was the largest component of the Australian Government’s $42.1 billion Nation Building and Jobs Plan.9 The BER provided funding for new school facilities, upgrades, and refurbishments. As noted in the Australian National Audit Office’s report on the BER in 2010, one of the benefits of school-based infrastructure spending as stimulus is the geographic spread of schools, enabling economic stimulus to be provided in population areas across the country.10

Other stimulus measures states and territories introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic aimed to support other sectors of the economy. For example, some state and territory governments introduced stimulus measures such as vouchers for sport, activities or excursions as well as tourism campaigns around school holidays to support sport and tourism sectors. Free preschool (also referred to as kindergarten or kinder) and child care measures were introduced in some states to support the sector and provide financial relief to families.

Search strategy Announcements from 2020 were identified from searches of media releases from state and territory governments—typically premiers/chief ministers and education ministers—and media releases and news announcements from education and related departments. The ‘details’ column provides a brief description of the announcement, with further information available in the source documents. Links included were correct at February 2022.

9. Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), Building the Education Revolution—Primary Schools for the 21st Century: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Audit Report, 10, 2009—10, ANAO, Barton, ACT, p. 11. 10. Ibid., p. 12.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 5

Media releases are organised by state and territory. Announcements that relate to individual schools are generally not included, such as announcements of individual school closures in response to confirmed cases of COVID-19, or announcements relating to individual new schools, upgrades or facilities.

Some included announcements, such as school upgrades, may not have been initiated specifically in response to the pandemic; however, their implementation was subsequently tied to the pandemic response, for example through jobs growth. It is not always clear whether a funding announcement represents new funding or is part of a previous announcement. While every effort has been made to identify and include relevant announcements, the chronology is not exhaustive. The search functions of government and education departments’ websites differ which can make it difficult to locate past announcements. Announcements made via press conferences without an accompanying media release would not have been identified.

Many of the announcements relating to school closures and re-openings are discussed in relation to school terms and school holidays. Table 1 provides state and territory school term dates for 2020.

Other publications from the Parliamentary Library provide chronologies of COVID-19 announcements and other information related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 6

Table 1: state and territory school term dates, 2020

State/ Territory

Term 1 Term 2 Term 3 Term 4

ACT Monday 3 February (new students) and Tuesday 4 February (continuing students) to Thursday 9 April

Tuesday 28 April to Friday 3 July

Monday 20 July to Friday 25 September Monday 12 October to Friday 18 December

NSW Tuesday 28 January (Eastern division) and Tuesday 4 February (Western division) to Thursday 9 April

Monday 27 April to Friday 3 July Monday 20 July to Friday 25 September

Monday 12 October to Friday 18 December

NT Tuesday 28 January (urban schools) and Wednesday 29 January (remote schools, except Gunbalanya School) to Thursday 9 April

Monday 20 April to Friday 26 June Tuesday 21 July to Friday 25 September

Monday 12 October to Thursday 17 December (urban schools) and Friday 18 December (remote schools)

QLD Tuesday 28 January to Friday 3 April Monday 20 April to Friday 26

June

Monday 13 July to Friday 18 September Tuesday 6 October to Friday 11 December (Year 12: Friday 20 November;

Year 10 and 11: Friday 27 November)

SA Tuesday 28 January to Thursday 9 April Monday 27 April to Friday 3

July

Monday 20 July to Friday 25 September Monday 12 October to Friday 11 December

TAS Wednesday 5 February to Thursday 9 April Monday 27 April to Friday 3 July Monday 20 July to Friday 25 September

Monday 12 October to Thursday 17 December (schools; college students to check with college)

VIC Tuesday 28 January to Friday 27 March

(First day of Term 1 is a student-free day)

Tuesday 14 April to Friday 26 June Monday 13 July to Friday 18 September

Monday 5 October to Friday 18 December

WA Monday 3 February to Thursday 9 April Tuesday 28 April to Friday 3 July Monday 20 July to Friday 25 September

Monday 12 October to Thursday 17 December

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 7

State and territory announcements—COVID-19 and schools and early childhood education

Table 2: Australian Capital Territory

Date Details Source Documents

6 March 2020 ACT Health released COVID-19 information for parents/carers of children in school or child care. It outlined quarantine requirements for people who had travelled or transited through mainland China or Iran, and South Korea after 5 March, or who had been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. It explained that being quarantined at home meant children could not attend school.

ACT Health, COVID-19 - Information for parents of children in school or childcare, information sheet, 6 March 2020.

16 March 2020 The ACT Government announced that Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith had declared a Public Health Emergency for the ACT.

The ACT Government stated that there was no need for schools to close at the time. However, it recommended that schools suspend sports carnivals and large concerts, and consider postponing school fetes and excursions. Planning was in process for the digital delivery of learning in government schools in case it was required.

R Stephen-Smith (Minister for Health), Public Health Emergency declared for ACT, media release, 16 March 2020.

20 March 2020 Education Minister Yvette Berry announced that Australian education minsters had agreed that the National Assessment Program—Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) testing would not proceed in 2020 due to the pandemic. Testing had been scheduled for 12-22 May.

Y Berry (Minister for Education), NAPLAN 2020 cancelled, media release, 20 March 2020.

22 March 2020 Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced he would be informing National Cabinet that the ACT would move to a more comprehensive shutdown of non-essential services over the following 48 hours. This followed similar announcements from NSW and Victorian Premiers.

In relation to schools, the Chief Minister stated:

We will be transitioning to an alternate distance education program for most students on Tuesday as well as continuing to provide a face to face education program for those students who need it.

A Barr (Chief Minister), Statement: ACT Chief Minister, media release, 22 March 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 8

22 March 2020 Minister for Education Yvette Berry announced all ACT schools would begin ‘pupil-free’ days from Tuesday 24 March until the school holidays on Friday 10 April, ‘despite statements from the Prime Minister’. Pupil-free days would allow time for teachers and schools to prepare for a range of learning options, including online learning.

Ms Berry stated that the Education Directorate would provide options for some students to attend school in person, such as students with parents/carers in essential services and vulnerable children.

Y Berry (Minister for Education), Confirmation of ACT schools response to COVID-19, media release, 22 March 2020.

28 March 2020 The ACT Government announced it would provide Chromebooks to government school students in Years 4-6 to ensure families could continue education from home. Primary schools would work with families to arrange distribution.

Students could also access a new Learning Resource Library to support home learning.

Y Berry (Minister for Education), Chromebooks rolled out to Years 4, 5 and 6, media release, 28 March 2020.

7 April 2020 The ACT Government confirmed Year 12 students would be able to receive the ACT Senior Secondary Certificate and Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) in 2020. Unlike other states and territories, the ACT uses results from school-based assessment across Years 11 and 12 in the calculation of the ATAR, enabling schools to adjust assessment types and schedules to reflect circumstances created by the COVID-19 response. Government colleges (Years 11 and 12) were working to ensure no student was disadvantaged.

The ACT Government also confirmed that all ACT government schools and colleges had access to a school psychologist. The Government aimed to ensure all students had internet access at home.

Y Berry (Minister for Education), Students can receive an ATAR for 2020, media release, 7 April 2020.

8 April 2020 Minister for Education Yvette Berry announced that government schools would be moving to remote delivery of learning at the start of Term 2 (Tuesday 28 April 2020), with supervision available at a small number of school sites for students unable to stay at home. Students without access to a device or computer at home would be

Y Berry (Minister for Education), ACT students to learn from home in term 2, media release, 8 April 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 9

provided with one by their school, as well as internet access for families without access.

All ACT government specialist schools remained available as supervised school sites.

22 April 2020 The Education Directorate announced the nine government school sites selected to be available for students in Term 2. Schools and teachers were prepared for remote learning for the whole of Term 2, unless the situation changed.

Approximately 1,900 students were expected at the nine school sites each day. Families were to register children; however, students would not be turned away if they turned up unexpectedly.

Y Berry (Minister for Education), Safe, supervised school sites for term two, media release, 22 April 2020.

1 May 2020 With no active cases, the ACT Government eased restrictions, allowing Canberrans to leave home for non-essential shopping, and allowing families to visit each other (two adults plus children).

In relation to schools, the Government stated it was working on how and when schools could return to face-to-face learning. The Government reiterated that government schools in the ACT could deliver remote learning for all of Term 2; however, it noted ‘we are preparing to move to face-to-face delivery during Term 2 if the circumstances allow us to do that sensibly’. It was flagged that the return would likely be staged, beginning with younger children and secondary students at key points in their learning (for example, Year 7 and Year 12 students).

A Barr (Chief Minister) and Y Berry (Minister for Education), Joint statement: Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, media release, 1 May 2020.

1 May 2020 The ACT Government established a new telehealth service for students as part of its wellbeing support during remote learning in Term 2. The Student Wellbeing Telehealth Support Service would be delivered by a team of psychologists and senior psychologists from the Education Directorate.

Education Directorate, New telehealth support service for students, news, 1 May 2020.

6 May 2020 The ACT Chief Health Officer (CHO) wrote to parents/carers with advice for students’ return to face-to-face learning. ACT Health had worked with the Education Directorate to develop guidelines to help make schools safe for students and staff.

K Coleman (CHO), ACT Health advice for returning to face to face learning in ACT public schools, letter to parents/carers, 6 May 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 10

7 May 2020 The ACT Government announced plans for government schools in the ACT to return to on-campus learning over the following four weeks. The return to on-site learning at school would occur in stages by year group.

Students with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems could still learn remotely.

Y Berry (Minister for Education), Staged return to on-campus learning in ACT public schools, media release, 7 May 2020.

11 May 2020 The Education Directorate announced that health and hygiene measures would be enforced as ACT government schools returned to on-campus learning from 18 May 2020. Cleaning services would be extended to deliver dedicated hygiene activities during each school day and an updated cleaning plan would be in place prior to resumption of face-to-face learning.

Education Directorate, Health and hygiene in schools, news, 11 May 2020.

14 May 2020 The Education Directorate outlined physical distancing measures that would be in place for adults when students returned to on-campus learning. Adults would need to maintain physical distance between themselves, including in the staffroom and during drop-off and pick-up times.

Education Directorate, Physical distancing in schools, news, 14 May 2020.

14 May 2020 As part of the the ACT Government’s economic stimulus package, the Education Directorate outlined school upgrades and stated that work had begun on more than 80 projects worth $5.15 million.

This was part of a $25 million package to ‘fast track’ a range of infrastructure and maintenance projects to support local businesses and employment.

Education Directorate, Fast-tracked projects set to upgrade ACT public schools, news, 14 May 2020.

11 June 2020 The ACT Government expanded the ‘Fast Track’ urban infrastructure program with a $10 million second phase. New projects would include upgrades to public buildings, maintenance works in schools and urban renewal projects.

A Barr (Chief Minister), More jobs and local businesses supported through $10m extension of fast track program, media release, 11 June 2020.

15 June 2020 On International Cleaners Day, the ACT Government acknowledged the importance of cleaners and their role in keeping government schools clean and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Y Berry (Minister for Education), Celebrating public school cleaners, media release, 15 June 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 11

Through the ACT Government’s $6 million Jobs for Canberrans Fund, the Education Directorate was hiring an additional 180 cleaners and support officers, with 90 having been hired to date.

18 June 2020 The CHO wrote to parents/carers to provide ACT Health advice for schools as restrictions eased.

As of 19 June 2020, parents would be able to attend schools for scheduled events. Small assemblies, religious services and performances could resume in line with the Public Health Direction on gathering sizes.

K Coleman (CHO), ACT Health advice for schools as COVID-19 restrictions ease, letter to parents/carers, 18 June 2020.

23 June 2020 The ACT Government released a ‘roadmap’ for government schools as part of the COVID-19 recovery plan and outlined school arrangements for Term 3. The roadmap set out the planned easing of restrictions for school activities and parent/carer engagement, in line with broader easing of COVID-19 restrictions across the ACT.

Education Directorate, COVID-19 and school arrangements for Term 3 2020, news, 23 June 2020.

2 July 2020 The Education Directorate issued travel advice for Victoria before the school holidays, advising ACT residents not to travel to specific suburbs in Melbourne identified as COVID-19 hotspots.

Education Directorate, Travel advice on Victoria, news, 2 July 2020.

10 July 2020 The Education Directorate reported on the Moments in Time initiative, a journal writing project that had been running for the previous 10 weeks. Government school students and community members had been recording thoughts, feelings and experiences of COVID-19.

Education Directorate, The world during COVID-19: as told by our students, news, 10 July 2020.

20 July 2020 The Education Directorate provided updated advice to schools following a COVID-19 Public Health Direction that morning requiring anyone who had been to locations identified by NSW Health to self-quarantine for 14 days.

The ACT Government paused the easing of restrictions (with schools to remain at Step 2.2 of the Roadmap) until health advice changed. Restrictions would remain as per the last two weeks of Term 2 with students across all years continuing with on-campus learning and schools supporting remote learning for students vulnerable to COVID-19.

Education Directorate, Updated information on COVID-19 health directions and restrictions for ACT public schools, news, 20 July 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 12

8 August 2020 As part of a COVID-19 support package for the sports sector, the ACT Government waived fees for hiring ACT Government sportsgrounds and public education facilities for a further six months.

Y Berry (Minster for Education), Extending support for sports sector through COVID-19, media release, 8 August 2020.

4 September 2020 The CHO issued guidance to the Education Directorate which set out considerations for schools in planning end-of-year events such as formals and graduation ceremonies.

Education Directorate, Advice on end of year activities, news, 4 September 2020.

12 October 2020 The Education Directorate advised that COVID-related restrictions had been eased across ACT schools before end-of-year events. Education Directorate, Changes to COVID restrictions, news, 12

October 2020.

13 November 2020 The Education Directorate advised that the CHO had updated COVID-19 rules for formals, graduations and other end-of-year events with the gathering limit increasing from 200 to 500.

Education Directorate, Larger end-of-year events, news, 13 November 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 13

Table 3: New South Wales

Date Details Source Documents

28 January 2020 The NSW Government requested that children who had visited China not attend school or child care services for 14 days following their departure from China. B Hazzard (Minister for Health and Medical Research) and S Mitchell

(Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning), Updated advice ahead of school returning, media release, 28 January 2020.

15 March 2020 The Department of Education announced proactive measures to limit the impact of COVID-19 in schools. Schools were required to adopt social distancing measures, including cancelling assemblies, excursions, travel and events such as major or interschool arts and sports activities from Monday 16 March.

The Department also stated that it was ‘continuing to prepare for further closures if necessary with scaling up of technology, additional training of staff and preparation of offsite lessons’.

Department of Education, Schools to implement social distancing measures, media release, 15 March 2020.

20 March 2020 The Department of Education released a communique from the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Education Council announcing NAPLAN testing would not proceed in 2020.

Cancelling NAPLAN in 2020 was intended to assist school leaders, teachers and support staff to focus on the wellbeing of students and continuity of education, including potential online and remote learning. Responses to COVID-19 may have also disrupted the delivery of NAPLAN testing, including operating centralised marking centres.

Department of Education, NAPLAN will not proceed in 2020, media release, 20 March 2020.

22 March 2020 Premier Gladys Berejiklian released a statement signalling her intention to inform the National Cabinet that NSW would move to a more comprehensive shutdown of non-essential services, to occur over the following 48 hours.

G Berejiklian (Premier), Statement from the NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, media release, 22 March 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 14

Ms Berejiklian stated that ‘[s]chools will be open tomorrow, though I will have more to say on this issue in the morning’.

23 March 2020 The NSW Government announced new COVID-19 restrictions with schools beginning to move towards online learning.

Schools remained open, but as of 24 March parents were encouraged to keep children at home ‘for practical reasons’.

Ms Berejiklian noted that nearly 30 per cent of children were already being kept out of school. Although parents were encouraged to keep children at home, Ms Berejiklian stated that ‘no child will be turned away from school’.

G Berejiklian (Premier) New COVID-19 restrictions begin as schools move towards online learning, media release, 23 March 2020.

24 March 2020 The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) confirmed that the Higher School Certificate (HSC) 2020 would be going ahead. The NESA Board gave principals or system authorities the power to make decisions about the number and weighting of HSC assessment tasks for their school.

NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA), 2020 HSC is going ahead, media release, 24 March 2020.

25 March 2020 The Department of Education reiterated previous advice on schools:

The NSW Department of Education’s advice regarding schools is very clear. No child in NSW will be turned away from school. Schools remain open for parents who want their children to attend irrespective of their profession or working arrangements.

Parents were encouraged to keep their children at home if possible. The Department said it would provide continuity of learning for students on and off campus.

Department of Education, Latest schools info, media release, 25 March 2020.

2 April 2020 NESA’s COVID-19 Response Committee announced decisions in relation to the 2020 HSC. The Committee agreed to enable changes in assessment arrangements and lift requirements for performance exams and vocational education and training (VET) work placements.

The Committee said it would continue meeting weekly to provide advice and address issues.

NESA, HSC changes protect health and safety of students, media release, 2 April 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 15

9 April 2020 The NSW Government announced that preschool in NSW would be free for up to six months following a funding package of $51 million.

The Government also committed $82 million to support council child care centres not eligible for JobKeeper payments. The measures were to provide funding certainty and financial relief to families during the pandemic.

G Berejiklian (Premier), Free preschool in NSW for up to six months, media release, 9 April 2020.

21 April 2020 The NSW Government announced that NSW school students would gradually transition back to classrooms in Term 2.

The announcement outlined that from week three of Term 2, every student would be attending school for one day a week, with a view to having all children back at school full-time by Term 3. The staged return of students would see about a quarter of a school’s students on site at any one time. Hand sanitiser would be available in all classrooms and at-risk teachers could work at home. Drop off and finishing times and breaks would be staggered.

Teachers would have an additional day to prepare for Term 2 on Tuesday 28 April, with students’ first day being Wednesday 29 April.

The NSW Government also committed $95.7 million to help keep casual and temporary school staff engaged during the pandemic.

G Berejiklian (Premier), NSW students to transition back to the classroom in Term 2, media release, 21 April 2020.

Department of Education, ‘Advice for families’, Department of Education website, updated on 21 April 2020.

24 April 2020 The NSW Department of Education published guidelines for families relating to the return to school-based learning in Term 2. Department of Education, ‘Managed return to school—a guide

for families’, Department of Education website, updated on 24 April 2020.

24 April 2020 The NESA COVID-19 Response Committee confirmed that the Class of 2020 would sit HSC written exams later in the year. The Committee said it was working to ensure results issued to students in December would take into account any disruption due to the pandemic.

NESA, HSC exams will go ahead in 2020, media release, 24 April 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 16

26 April 2020 The NSW Government announced the release of COVID-19 in schools - the experience in NSW, a report by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance.

The authors concluded that ‘[i]n contrast to influenza, data from both virus and antibody testing to date suggest that children are not the primary drivers of COVID-19 spread in schools or in the community’ (p. 4). However, they also noted that parents were advised to keep their children home from schools from 23 March which decreased attendance and may have impacted the results of the study (p. 5).

NSW Government, Report: COVID-19 in schools and the experience in NSW, news, 26 April 2020.

National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), COVID-19 in schools - the experience in NSW, NCIRS, 2020.

27 April 2020 The NSW Government waived lease and licence fees for businesses that use school sites, such as canteens, uniform shops, out of school hours care services and dance schools, until the end of Term 2.

NSW Government, Licence fees frozen for school businesses, news, 27 April 2020.

28 April 2020 The NSW Government provided an update on COVID-19 restrictions and arrangements for schools and retail outlets during May. One of the three key changes was that, following the staged return to face-to-face teaching from 11 May as planned (see 21 April announcement), consideration would be given to accelerating a full return to school as soon as possible.

G Berejiklian (Premier), Update on COVID-19 restrictions, media release, 28 April 2020.

28 April 2020 The NSW Government announced the ‘fast tracking’ of planning projects to boost the economy and create job opportunities. Projects included thousands of new homes, new industrial complexes and six schools.

G Berejiklian (Premier), Accelerated planning projects to deliver jobs and boost the economy, media release, 28 April 2020.

29 April 2020 The NSW Government announced a $250 million stimulus package to support 550 new and redeployed cleaning businesses to improve the cleaning of public facilities, including NSW transport, schools and TAFE.

G Berejiklian (Premier), $250 million cleaning stimulus package to help stop the spread of COVID-19, media release, 29 April 2020.

1 May 2020 The NSW Department of Education and ABC Education collaborated to provide new study materials for students learning from home with a daily schedule of free-to-air educational programs.

Department of Education, Home learning boost easy as ABC, media release, 1 May 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 17

The announcement stated that television programs and work booklets would complement teachers’ work to support learning at home. The activities could be completed without internet access, were designed for students of all ages and stages of learning and addressed topics in a range of subjects.

1 May 2020 Secretary of the NSW Department of Education Mark Scott launched NSW Education LIVE, a series of 15-minute wellbeing classes to be live streamed at the start of each school day until 8 May.

Department of Education, Heroes help NSW school students stay connected, news, 1 May 2020.

6 May 2020 The NSW Government announced support for Creative Kids providers to adapt activities for online delivery in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Creative Kids is a program which aims to assist families with the costs of children participating in creative and cultural activities.

NSW Government, Creative Kids expansion goes digital, news, 6 May 2020.

11 May 2020 Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell thanked students, staff, principals, teachers and support staff as students across NSW started to return to the classroom in a managed approach.

Ms Berejiklian urged parents to follow their schools’ advice and only send their children on their allocated days.

The media release stated that the majority of high schools had provided additional time for Year 12 and that HSC students would receive three days of allocated classroom time on average.

Ms Mitchell also outlined measures to provide schools with hygiene supplies and daily cleaning. Additionally, each school in NSW would receive a first-aid room package containing personal protective equipment and a non-contact temperature monitor.

Schools were expected to remain in this stage for at least two weeks.

G Berejiklian (Premier), Students start returning to the classroom, media release, 11 May 2020.

15 May 2020 The 2020 HSC exam timetable was released. The timetable started five days later than usual, giving students extra time at school while keeping the original timeframe for releasing results.

NESA, 2020 HSC exam timetables now available, media release, 15 May 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 18

19 May 2020 The NSW Government announced students would be back in the classroom full-time from Monday 25 May. NESA, NSW students return to the classroom full time, media release,

19 May 2020.

20 May 2020 The Department of Education updated information and guidelines for families relating to the return to face-to-face learning. Department of Education, ‘A guide to NSW school students returning

to face-to-face learning’, Department of Education website, updated on 20 May 2020.

22 May 2020 Three new schools were part of 24 priority projects announced by Premier Gladys Berejiklian in the second tranche of projects that would have their planning assessments ‘fast tracked’ through the Planning System Acceleration Program, part of the NSW Government’s COVID-19 response to boost the economy.

G Berejiklian (Premier), More planning projects to propel future of NSW, media release, 22 May 2020.

25 May 2020 Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell marked students’ return to the classroom and highlighted 15 major school upgrades during Term 2: ‘[t]he 15 upgraded schools have kept 10,000 people in jobs right across NSW.’

Department of Education, Thousands of students returning to upgraded schools across NSW, media release, 25 May 2020.

25 May 2020 The NSW Government announced that hundreds of additional staff had been deployed across the transport network to facilitate people returning to school and work, with staff to monitor physical distancing and assist crowd management. Since March, additional cleaners had increased cleaning.

NSW Government, NSW transport staff help the return to school, news, 25 May 2020.

1 June 2020 The NSW Government added thousands of extra services—more than 3,100 bus services and 250 train services each week—to the Sydney public transport network to increase capacity for physical distancing, including services targeting school students.

NSW Government, Public transport services boosted for physical distancing, news, 1 June 2020.

11 June 2020 The NSW Department of Education updated its Guide to NSW School Students Returning to Face-to-face Learning. Department of Education, Guide to NSW school students returning to

face-to-face learning, Department of Education, June 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 19

15 June 2020 Restrictions in NSW government schools were eased further from 15 June, allowing assemblies, choirs, school photographs and external providers such as music tutors to provide services on school sites.

NSW Government, COVID-19 restrictions ease at NSW public schools, media release, 15 June 2020.

18 June 2020 The NSW Government announced the approval of three new schools as part of the Planning System Acceleration Program (see 22 May announcement). Combined, the schools in Blacktown, Wagga Wagga and Camden would provide 2,500 primary places, with the Government to invest $127 million into the communities.

NSW Government, Three more new schools get tick of approval, news, 18 June 2020.

22 June 2020 The NSW Department of Education announced that HSC students from government schools could access additional support through a new online platform, the HSC Hub. The platform was created to provide resources including online lessons, practice exams, demonstrations and other support material. HSC Hub also aimed to address equity concerns for students who had been particularly disadvantaged by the pandemic.

Department of Education, Online home for additional HSC student support, media release, 22 June 2020.

2 July 2020 Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell requested a review of innovative practices implemented by schools and teachers while students were learning from home during the pandemic to capture examples of practice that could shape the future delivery of education.

Department of Education, Capturing the innovations of learning from home, media release, 2 July 2020.

6 July 2020 NESA announced a state-wide computer drop to guarantee HSC students access to the HSC Hub from the school holidays through to the end of exams. The Department of Education identified schools and students requiring additional access to technology and the internet at home and delivered more than 10,000 devices, with priority given to HSC students.

NESA, Statewide computer drop for HSC students, media release, 6 July 2020.

20 July 2020 The NSW Government announced that it had built 42 new and upgraded schools in the year to date. The Government had invested more than $1.3 billion in the 2020 building program which was upgrading school infrastructure and supporting jobs across the state during the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Department of Education, 2020 a record year for building schools, media release, 20 July 2020.

31 July 2020 Following positive feedback, the NSW Department of Education announced it was expanding a reading and numeracy assessment package for students in Years 5 and 9 Department of Education, New reading and numeracy assessment

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 20

to Year 3 students. The ‘check-in’ assessment tool was designed to assess student learning following the period of learning at home due to COVID-19. tool expanded, media release, 31 July 2020.

17 August 2020 NESA provided updated heath advice for schools, with all NSW government schools to adopt changes from Wednesday 19 August. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms was prohibited from returning to school until a negative test result had been reported.

Additional measures for Term 3 were set out, including restrictions or bans in relation to students mixing, school travel, interschool sports carnivals, group singing, dance and drama activities. School formals, dances, graduation or other social events were not permitted.

NESA, Updated COVID-Safe guidelines for NSW schools, media release, 17 August 2020.

19 August 2020 The NSW Government extended COVID-19 relief funding for community and mobile preschools to the end of Term 4. The continued funding aimed to help keep families engaged in preschool education and to help preschools remain open and maintain staffing levels. The package provided funding to cover parent fees and the impact of falling enrolments on top of the NSW Government’s ongoing preschool funding.

Department of Education, Free preschool in NSW continued for Term 4, media release, 19 August 2020.

21 August 2020 In relation to NSW-Victoria border permits, the NSW Department of Education advised that all current day school visitor permits would expire at midnight Friday 21 August following an amendment to the Public Health Order on 7 August. As a result, all Victorian border residents including students and staff would require new border permits to attend school from Monday 24 August.

Department of Education, NSW-Victoria border permits expire 21 August, media release, 21 August 2020.

21 August 2020 The NSW Department of Education rescheduled the Opportunity Class Placement Test to November to give schools time to comply with the latest NSW Health advice to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spread.

The Department advised that the test would take place in students’ own schools rather than examination centres. Over 14,000 applications had been received with high potential Year 4 students sitting the test for placements for Year 5 in 2021.

Department of Education, Opportunity Class Test rescheduled to November, media release, 21 August 2020.

30 August 2020 The NSW Government announced that a fly-in fly-out psychology and telepsychology service of 16 permanent senior psychologists would be introduced to support students in regional and remote areas with mental health. The service was part of

NSW Government, More mental health support for regional

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 21

the NSW Government’s $88.4 million mental health funding that included a commitment to provide every government high school with a full-time counsellor or psychologist and student support officer.

students, media release, 30 August 2020.

7 September 2020 In relation to NSW-Victoria border restrictions, the NSW Department of Education advised that from 12.01 am Friday 4 September there would no longer be a border zone and that a new border region resident permit would be introduced. This would allow Victorian border region residents to enter NSW to attend work or school where it was not possible to do so from home, and to allow NSW border region residents to enter Victoria and return home.

Department of Education, The latest NSW-Victoria border restrictions, media release, 7 September 2020.

7 September 2020 Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell announced the expansion of the ‘Best in Class’ team—a team of the state’s best teachers who had been supporting teachers with remote learning techniques and online teaching materials. The team had been supporting HSC students over the previous six months and would be expanding to support more teachers with mathematics and writing across all secondary years.

G Berejiklian (Premier), ‘Best in Class’ to support more teachers and students, media release, 7 September 2020.

7 September 2020 Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that Year 12 students in NSW would be able to celebrate finishing school with COVID-19 safe graduation ceremonies and formals in Term 4, after the final HSC exams. The announcement stated that schools would receive COVID-19 safety plan guidance by 11 September and that the NSW Government would provide COVID-safe guidance to students wanting to participate in schoolies.

G Berejiklian (Premier), School formals to go ahead, media release, 7 September 2020.

9 September 2020 NESA issued guidelines for schools across NSW to support COVID-safe planning for HSC written exams starting on 20 October 2020. Schools were asked to limit student numbers to 75 students per exam room, limit HSC student interaction with the rest of the school and prioritise cleaning for exam venues.

NESA, COVID-safe guidelines issued to schools ahead of HSC exams, media release, 9 September 2020.

16 September 2020 Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell released a snapshot of the more than 60,000 students on track to receive their HSC in 2020. Ms Mitchell encouraged students and parents to engage with the upgraded HSC wellbeing support campaign, Stay Healthy HSC hub, and announced that the NSW

NESA, Support for HSC students on the home stretch, media release, 16 September 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 22

Government continued to increase its wellbeing support to students sitting the HSC in response to the pandemic.

21 September 2020 The NSW Government announced sponsorship and scholarship programs to train up to 328 people to join the school counselling workforce between 2020 and 2023.

The announcement for the professional pipeline was part of the NSW Government’s election commitment to provide mental health support in schools, which was particularly important ‘[g]iven the tough year that has been 2020, with bushfires, drought, floods and of course COVID-19’.

Department of Education, More counsellors in the pipeline for NSW schools, media release, 21 September 2020.

24 September 2020 Restrictions around school, sport and music were relaxed under new COVID-19 safety rules, with more families able to attend community sports, music ensembles and school camps. Changes to Term 4 school guidelines included the recommencement of interschool and music activities and formals and graduations to be permitted.

NESA, School, sport and music restrictions relaxed, media release, 24 September 2020.

20 October 2020 HSC written exams began with protocols in place to protect the 73,000 students sitting exams over the following three weeks. Students were advised they would be required to complete health screening prior to entering an exam venue.

NESA, Students begin their HSC written exams, media release, 20 October 2020.

28 October 2020 The NSW Government announced a new $120 million Regional Renewal Program for regional school capital improvement projects as part of the state’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan, providing a co-contribution of between 50 and 80 per cent for projects such as covered outdoor learning areas, science facilities, toilet blocks, administration buildings and canteens.

J Barilaro (Deputy Premier), Top up for regional school projects, media release, 28 October 2020.

4 November 2020 The NSW Government announced that hundreds of fee-free training courses were available for school leavers, young people and job seekers as part of the Skilling for Recovery program. $320 million was committed to deliver 100,000 training places.

Department of Education, Program helps skill up school leavers over summer, media release, 4 November 2020.

8 November 2020 The NSW Government announced $120 million in funding for community and mobile preschools in 2021 to extend the temporary COVID-19 free preschool program. This would provide up to 15 hours of free preschool for an extra year, enabling more than

G Berejiklian (Premier), $120 million extra for free preschool program to help parents, media release, 8 November 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 23

44,000 3-5-year-olds to attend community preschool (see also announcements on 9 April and 19 August).

8 November 2020 The NSW Government announced that the $120 million Metro Renewal Program would provide high priority schools in the Greater Sydney area with infrastructure upgrades.

Eligible schools would be contacted by the Department of Education to learn more about the program.

G Berejiklian (Premier), Green light for hundreds of school projects, media release, 8 November 2020.

9 November 2020 The NSW Government launched the new online Mental Health Hub for students, parents and teachers. The site could be accessed by teachers, parents and students across every school sector, including independent and Catholic schools.

NESA, Mental health hub for students, parents and teachers, media release, 9 November 2020.

9 November 2020 The NSW Government announced more than $300 million for three new and three upgraded schools across the state as part of the COVID-19 Recovery Plan, with projects estimated to provide up to 1,500 jobs across metropolitan and regional areas.

The NSW Government stated it was spending $6.7 billion over four years on more than 190 new and upgraded schools.

G Berejiklian (Premier) New schools part of the COVID-19 recovery plan, media release, 9 November 2020.

10 November 2020 The NSW Government announced a $337 million program to employ up 5,500 additional staff to deliver small-group teaching at every NSW government school as well as non-government schools with the most significant levels of need.

Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell called for educators to express interest in being part of the COVID intensive support program, including casual and retired teachers, final year teaching students, and university tutors.

G Berejiklian (Premier), Free tutoring to support students, media release, 10 November 2020.

11 November 2020 The NSW 2020-21 Budget included more than $700 million to expand digital capabilities. This included $366 million over two years to close the digital gap in schools by upgrading technology in regional schools, upgrading learning spaces,

Department of Education, $700 million to drive digital revolution in NSW, media release, 11 November 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 24

upskilling teachers and giving students cutting-edge distance education platforms and digital education resources. Premier Gladys Berejiklian said:

‘COVID-19 has shown us just how important it is to have the digital infrastructure and the skills to match for a modern flexible society’.

11 November 2020 The final HSC exams concluded with Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell congratulating students and saying the Class of 2020 had demonstrated extraordinary resilience over the year.

Ms Mitchell also noted that it was the last day of restrictions on high school formals and celebrations.

NESA, HSC students reach the finish line, media release, 11 November 2020.

16 November 2020 The NSW Government announced $60 million to replace roofs at schools across rural and regional NSW as part of the COVID-19 Recovery Plan. J Barilaro (Deputy Premier), New roofs for regional schools, media

release, 16 November 2020.

17 November 2020 The NSW 2020-21 Budget included an expansion of the Wellbeing and Health In-Reach Nurse program with $46.8 million over four years allocated for 100 new school-based nurses. Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the funding would enable thousands more students to have access to a nurse at school, stating:

‘With the added stress of COVID-19 on our young people, the further expansion of this program will ensure children, young people and families don’t miss out on the support they need’.

Department of Education, $46.8 million to expand wellbeing nurses in schools program, media release,17 November 2020.

17 November 2020 The NSW Government announced new schools and infrastructure projects as part of the COVID-19 Recovery Plan. It was estimated that the projects would support up to 1,500 jobs.

Department of Education, New schools part of the COVID-19 recovery plan, media release, 17 November 2020.

17 November 2020 The NSW Government announced more than $150 million to install LED lights in government schools over the next two years. The program would target schools that had not yet benefitted from an infrastructure project and would build on the state’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan.

Department of Education, Powering our public schools into the future, media release, 17 November 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 25

19 November 2020 The NSW Government made the widely-used teachers’ resource, What Works Best, available as a guide for parents and carers to support children’s learning at home. Department of Education, Top teaching resource now a quick guide

for parents and carers, media release, 19 November 2020.

27 November 2020 The Department of Education announced that temporary and retired teachers could apply for the tuition program announced in the state budget. Applications for university teachers and initial teacher education (ITE) students would open the following week.

The announcement also stated that the NSW Government had created optional online reading and numeracy check-in assessments designed to help teachers identify where students were up to in their learning.

Department of Education, Hiring begins for free tuition, media release, 27 November 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 26

Table 4: Northern Territory

Date Details Source Documents

26 February 2020 The NT Government announced a $2 million initiative, the Immediate Tourism Resilience Plan, to help minimise the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on the tourism industry. Under the plan, interstate schools booking an excursion to the NT between 1 September 2020 and 31 March 2021 could apply for $3,000, up from $1000, towards the cost of the trip under the Save & Learn—NT School Excursion Program.

E Lawler (Acting Minister for Tourism, Sport and Culture) and D Wakefield (Member for Braitling), $2 million Immediate Resilience Plan: boost to incentivise school trips to the NT, media release, 26 February 2020.

13 March 2020 Chief Minister Michael Gunner outlined advice from Australia’s Chief Health and Medical Officers advising against organised non-essential gatherings of 500 or more people, and advised that this did not include essential gatherings such as going to school, university, work, or using public transport or airports.

M Gunner (Chief Minister), Media statement on coronavirus, media release, 13 March 2020.

15 March 2020 Following National Cabinet, Chief Minister Michael Gunner outlined measures to be enacted from midnight, including self-isolation for all international arrivals, a ban on cruise ships (initially 30 days), and a ban on non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people.

Mr Gunner stated that ‘[g]overnment schools across the NT will remain open.’

M Gunner (Chief Minister), Media statement—National Cabinet meeting on coronavirus response, media release, 15 March 2020.

23 March 2020 Chief Minister Michael Gunner outlined social distancing restrictions being implemented, including the closure of establishments including clubs, pubs, entertainment venues, gyms, and places of worship.

In relation to schools, Mr Gunner stated that parents could choose to keep students at home for the remainder of the term but said he expected education to be compulsory again in Term 2. Mr Gunner said the Education Department would use the time to ensure there could be flexible arrangements for children to learn from school or home.

M Gunner (Chief Minister), Statement from the Chief Minister, media release, 23 March 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 27

26 March 2020 A working group was established to work through options for school staff in the lead up to the term break.

Following discussions with the working group and the National Cabinet, the NT Government decided that the final four days of the school term (Monday 6 April- Thursday 9 April) would be professional development days for staff to prepare for the continued delivery of education in Term 2. Schools would continue as usual in the week following, but parents could choose to keep their children at home.

Resources and guidelines were being developed by the Department of Education to enable students to continue learning at home or at school in Term 2.

S Uibo (Minister for Education), Keeping Territory kids learning and supporting teachers in the time of COVID-19, media release, 26 March 2020.

Department of Education, Guidelines for commencement of Term 2, 2020, Department of Education, 2020.

4 April 2020 The NT Government announced arrangements for more than 1,700 casual staff employed by NT government schools to continue to be paid, in the event of schools being closed due to COVID-19.

S Uibo (Minister for Education), Supporting workers: Territory Labor government guarantees 1700 casual school jobs, media release, 4 April 2020.

6 April 2020 The NT Government announced a $10.8 million classroom stimulus package to support the construction industry through the COVID-19 pandemic, with 15 new prefabricated classrooms to be built and transported to remote communities when COVID-19 travel restrictions were lifted.

S Uibo (Minister for Education), Supporting jobs and building better schools: $10.8 million education stimulus, media release, 6 April 2020.

8 April 2020 The NT Government announced the Remote Community Schools Package to incentivise teachers and school staff not to leave their remote communities during the term break. The package was available to government employees employed in schools in the designated area outlined by COVID-19 biosecurity measures.

S Uibo (Minister for Education), School holiday incentives for remote teachers to remain in community, media release, 8 April 2020.

9 April 2020 Minister for Education Selena Uibo issued a statement on schooling in Term 2, due to begin on 20 April, stating that education in the NT was compulsory and all students were expected to attend from day one. Exceptions could be made for parents who informed the school that their child would be learning from home.

S Uibo (Minister for Education), Media statement on Term 2 in NT schools, media release, 9 April 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 28

21 April 2020 Chief Minister Michael Gunner noted that school had returned the day before ‘with strong attendance results’. M Gunner (Chief Minister), Statement from the Chief Minister—

Coronavirus legislation, media release, 21 April 2020.

6 May 2020 The NT Government announced it was extending the redemption date for 2019-20 Sport and Learn to Swim vouchers under the Urban Sport Voucher Scheme due to COVID-19 restrictions.

L Moss (Minister for Tourism, Sport and Culture), Supporting Territory families: 2019-20 Urban Sport Vouchers extended, media release, 6 May 2020.

6 May 2020 The NT Government announced one-off grants of up to $10,000 to the NT’s 150 child care operators to support them during the COVID-19 pandemic. The top-up grants were to offset the costs of supplies, cleaning and maintenance during the pandemic.

The announcement also stated the NT Government was providing support and guidance to child care operators to access Australian Government funding as well as guaranteeing the $5.4 million NT Early Childhood Services Subsidy, which would continue to be paid to child care operators at pre-pandemic enrolment levels.

N Fyles (Minister for Health), Supporting the Territory’s childcare workers through COVID-19, media release, 6 May 2020.

11 May 2020 Attendance at NT government schools returned to pre-pandemic levels. Students in government schools returned to the classroom from the start of Term 2 on 20 April 2020.

Preliminary data showed that average attendance across the Territory for week two of Term 2 was 79 per cent, slightly higher than the average attendance rate of 78 per cent in Term 2, 2019. At the height of pandemic shutdown measures in week 10 of Term 1, attendance fell to 32 per cent across the NT.

E Lawler (Acting Minister for Education), Attendance at Territory government schools returns to normal levels, media release, 11 May 2020.

27 May 2020 As part of its COVID-19 education stimulus program to support local employment, the NT Government announced $1.65 million in acoustics upgrades for NT classrooms, with 75 classrooms to be upgraded with acoustic wall and ceiling finishes.

E Lawler (Acting Minister for Education), Acoustics upgrades for 100 Territory classrooms to support students, media release, 27 May 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 29

The acoustics upgrade program was part of more than $4 million in ‘fast tracked’ school infrastructure initiatives to support the local construction industry. The funding also included $1.98 million for school maintenance and repairs.

25 June 2020 The NT Government announced the release of the June-July school holiday program, and its funding of more than 478 activities and events for children, in line with COVID-19 health guidelines.

D Wakefield (Minister for Territory Families), Release of the June-July School Holiday Program, media release, 25 June 2020.

17 July 2020 The Department of Education provided information about Term 4 in government schools. It outlined:

• the NT Government’s Roadmap to the New Normal (released in May 2020) and

how its three principles—personal responsibility, physical distancing and hygiene—applied in schools’ context

• education in the NT, including attendance requirements and processes around

absences, illness and self-isolation

• parents and carers on school grounds and the recommencement of events and

activities

• arrangements for Year 12 students relating to exams and the Northern Territory

Certificate of Education and Training (NTCET)—requirements for the NTCET would remain unchanged, exams would proceed following the published schedule and senior schools would adjust assessments fairly

• arrangements for VET courses

• requirements for boarding schools

• hygiene measures in place in schools and

• learning from home and online learning.

Department of Education, ‘Information for parents and carers about NTG schools for Term 4, 2020’, Department of Education website, updated 17 July 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 30

21 July 2020 Marking the return to classrooms, the NT Government stated that learning in Term 3 would be delivered face-to-face; however, students required to quarantine following interstate travel would be supported by their school to learn remotely for the start of the term. These students would need a negative COVID-19 test result before returning to the classroom.

The media release also provided the numbers of teaching staff in quarantine and self-isolation and outlined additional funding provided to schools for cleaning.

S Uibo (Minister for Education), Students and school staff return to the classroom for Term 3, media release, 21 July 2020.

27 July 2020 Minister for Education Selena Uibo announced that nearly 90 child care operators had sought financial assistance through the NT Early Childhood Education and Care COVID-19 Special Assistance Grant (see 6 May announcement).

S Uibo (Minister for Education), Supporting our childcare sector: nearly 90 operators apply for $10,000 assistance grants, media release, 27 July 2020.

22 September 2020 Following the announcement of 15 pre-fabricated classrooms for NT schools to support the construction industry through COVID-19 (see 6 April announcement), Minister for Education Lauren Moss announced that the classrooms would be distributed across eight schools. Remote communities would receive 10 classrooms and urban sites would receive five to accommodate students with additional needs. The program was expected to provide 60 construction jobs.

L Moss (Minister for Education), 15 new transportable classrooms for NT schools, media release, 22 September 2020.

22 October 2020 The NT Government announced the annual Beat Festival—a major performing arts event—would be delivered virtually in 2020. More than 1,000 NT children would participate in the festival commencing 9 November, with the theme ‘Flight - Lift off after Lockdown’.

L Moss (Minister for Education), 2020 Beat Festival goes virtual, media release, 22 October 2020.

30 October 2020 Marking World Teacher Day, Minister for Education Lauren Moss announced overall winners for the 2020 Teaching in the Territory Excellence Awards. Ms Moss recognised the work of teachers in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that the NT was the first jurisdiction to return to face-to-face learning in Term 2.

L Moss (Minister for Education), World Teachers Day: recognising Territory educator excellence, media release, 30 October 2020.

13 November 2020 Noting the challenges presented by COVID-19 for Year 12 students, Minister for Education Lauren Moss announced the Get SET in the NT program as part of the 2020 Budget. The $5.2 million program aimed to increase opportunities to study, learn and

L Moss (Minister for Education), Budget 2020: $5.2 million for Territory leavers to Get SET in the

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 31

train in the NT through NT public service traineeships, scholarships and support for industry groups to engage with school-leavers.

There was also $93.5 million allocated towards school infrastructure projects.

NT, media release, 13 November 2020.

15 December 2020 Minister for Education Lauren Moss announced that, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, a total of 1,610 NT Year 12 students would be awarded their NTCET in 2020, 156 more than in 2019. Of these, 267 recipients were Aboriginal students, 40 more than in 2019.

L Moss (Minister for Education), Bumper year: record number of NTCET completers in 2020, media release, 15 December 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 32

Table 5: Queensland

Date Details Source Documents

10 March 2020 All official overseas travel by students and staff at government schools was halted until further notice due to COVID-19. Minister for Education Grace Grace stated that the decision aligned Queensland with other state education systems.

G Grace (Minister for Education), International travel ban for state school teachers and students, media release, 10 March 2020.

18 March 2020 Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk provided an update from the National Cabinet. In relation to schools, Ms Palaszczuk stated that schools would remain open, based on health advice. She emphasised that students, teachers and school staff must stay at home if unwell.

A Palaszczuk (Premier), Ministerial statement—National Cabinet update, media release, 18 March 2020.

19 March 2020 Minister for Education Grace Grace announced that cleaning would be increased in Queensland government schools. Schools would have additional resources to enable progressive cleaning across the day and would follow cleaning protocols.

G Grace (Minister for Education), More cleaning for Qld state schools, media release, 19 March 2020.

20 March 2020 Minister for Education Grace Grace released a statement advising that: ‘[t]he expert health advice of chief health and medical officers remains that schools should remain open’.

Ms Grace also announced the cancellation of NAPLAN testing in 2020, given the impact of COVID-19 on schools.

G Grace (Minister for Education), Statement from Education Minister Grace Grace, media release, 20 March 2020.

26 March 2020 The Queensland Government announced that Queensland schools would be student-free the following week until the end of term on 3 April.

Schools would remain open for children of essential workers and to provide time for teachers to prepare for a move to remote learning.

Early childhood education centres and outside hours school care would continue as normal.

A Palaszczuk (Premier) and G Grace (Minister for Education), Student free days for Queensland state schools next week, media release, 26 March 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 33

12 April 2020 The Queensland Government announced $17 million for community kindergartens, enabling 22,000 children to attend kindergarten for free for Term 2. The funding supported community kindergartens facing falling enrolments to stay open.

A Palaszczuk (Premier) and G Grace (Minister for Education), $17 million relief package enables free community kindergarten for Term 2, media release, 12 April 2020.

13 April 2020 The Queensland Government announced that Queensland school students would be learning at home for the start of Term 2 on Monday 20 April until at least Friday 22 May. Schools would only be open for the children of essential workers.

Community kindergartens would also implement home-based learning. Before and after school care, long day care and family day care would continue to operate.

Minister for Education Grace Grace stated that the government was working with schools and vendors to supply devices and internet connectivity where required.

A Palaszczuk (Premier) and G Grace (Minister for Education), Initial Term 2 school arrangements for Queensland announced, media release, 13 April 2020.

19 April 2020 The Queensland Government praised families, teachers, principals and Education Department staff for efforts to prepare students for learning from home. The Government also outlined support measures for students, including extra laptops, SIM cards, dongles and hotspots and two new hotlines for families in government schools and early childhood services.

A Palaszczuk (Premier) and G Grace (Minister for Education), Support for every family, media release, 19 April 2020.

20 April 2020 Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk reiterated arrangements for the return to school for Term 2, stating that schools would be open on Monday 20 April for children of essential workers and vulnerable students, with other students learning from home.

A Palaszczuk (Premier), Queensland COVID-19—Sunday, April 19—ready for school, media release, 20 April 2020.

1 May 2020 The Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath advised parents at home with young children due to COVID-19 to be wary of potential hazards in the home. She urged parents not to become complacent about safety, especially if trying to manage work commitments and caring for children.

Y D’Ath (Attorney-General and Minister for Justice), Keep your kids safe while home during COVID-19, media release, 1 May 2020.

4 May 2020 The Queensland Government announced plans for the gradual return of students to schools by year group, starting with Kindy, Prep, and Years 1, 11 and 12 on 11 May. It was expected remaining year groups would return on 25 May.

A Palaszczuk (Premier), Qld COVID-19 - Mon May 4: classroom plans, media release, 4 May 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 34

Education Minister Grace Grace stated that the Government’s plan had been endorsed by the independent and Catholic school sectors as well as principals and teachers. Social distancing measures to protect adults at schools would be in place.

A Palaszczuk (Premier) and G Grace (Minister for Education), Queensland success leads sensible steps back to school, media release, 4 May 2020.

8 May 2020 Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk released Queensland’s roadmap for COVID-19 recovery. The roadmap comprised three stages, with each successively allowing more travel, activities and larger gatherings. Stage One would be effective from 15 May while ‘Stages Two and Three aim[ed] at gradually increasing travel distances and numbers for businesses in time for June school holidays’.

A Palaszczuk (Premier), Premier maps road to easing restrictions, media release, 8 May 2020.

15 May 2020 The Queensland Government stated that students in Years 2-10 in Queensland government schools would return to classroom-based learning from 25 May 2020, following the return of Kindy, Prep, and Years 1, 11 and 12 on 11 May 2020.

The updated arrangements for the remainder of Term 2 had been made in accordance with advice from Queensland’s CHO and the AHPPC.

A Palaszczuk (Premier) and G Grace (Minister for Education), Schools prepare to welcome back Years 2- 10, media release, 15 May 2020.

21 May 2020 The Queensland Government announced another 580 schools would receive solar panels through the second and third phases of the Advancing Clean Energy Schools program, to be rolled out from 1 July 2020. In total, more than 800 schools were expected to benefit from the program.

The solar installation program aimed to reduce energy costs and was contributing to supporting jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

G Grace (Minister for Education), Panels power jobs through pandemic, media release, 21 May 2020.

Department of Education, ‘Advancing Clean Energy Schools Program’, Department of Education website, updated 22 May 2020.

25 May 2020 The Queensland Government marked the return of students in Years 2-10 to classrooms, completing the staged return. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Education Minister Grace Grace thanked students, teachers, parents and carers for their patience during the state’s COVID-19 response and the disruption to school communities.

A Palaszczuk (Premier) and G Grace (Minister for Education), All Queensland school students back in the classroom for Term 2, media release, 25 May 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 35

Since the staged return began on 11 May with students in kindergarten, Prep, Year 1 and Years 11 and 12, attendance rates had been approximately 84 per cent for Prep and 80-82 per cent for Years 1, 11 and 12.

The learning@home website would remain available and continue to be updated.

12 June 2020 The Queensland Government announced it was ‘fast tracking’ a school revitalisation and expansion project through a Ministerial Infrastructure Designation. The Government stated that progressing such projects was a key part of the state’s COVID economic recovery.

C Dick (Treasurer), Green light given for Logan school revitalisation and expansion plans, media release, 12 June 2020.

18 June 2020 The Queensland Government announced that boarding school students would be able to return to school in Term 3, following the easing of some COVID-19 restrictions by the AHPPC.

S Miles (Deputy Premier), Boarding school students back for Term 3, media release, 18 June 2020.

27 June 2020 Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk highlighted the contribution of school infrastructure projects to the state’s COVID-19 recovery.

The Queensland Government’s plan, Unite and Recover for Queensland Jobs, included a $50 billion infrastructure guarantee, ensuring ‘a pipeline of work to support jobs’.

A Palaszczuk (Premier), School infrastructure works boost Queensland tradie jobs, 27 June 2020.

8 July 2020 The Queensland Government announced measures to reduce ‘red tape’ as part of its COVID-19 economic recovery plan. The proposed changes would simplify or remove planning approvals for events such as school fetes and streamline approvals for infrastructure such as hospitals and schools, allowing for environmental assessment and public consultation to occur at the same time.

C Dick (Treasurer), Have your say on reducing planning red tape for COVID economic recovery, media release, 8 July 2020.

14 July 2020 The Queensland Government announced a $346 million education facilities package, which included building four new government schools. A Palaszczuk (Premier) and G Grace (Minister for Education), More jobs

on offer with four new schools on the way, media release, 14 July 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 36

11 August 2020 The Queensland Government announced $220 million to refurbish education facilities. The works program was anticipated to support more than 720 jobs across the state.

Schools were being encouraged to engage local businesses to complete maintenance works and smaller jobs in schools.

A Palaszczuk (Premier) and G Grace (Minister for Education), Funding breathes new life into Queensland schools creating tradies jobs bonanza, media release, 11 August 2020.

12 August 2020 The Queensland Government announced that seven schools would soon be calling for tenders for expansion. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk stated that it was a ‘$200 million investment supporting 660 jobs’, creating further employment opportunities following the previous day’s announcement as part of COVID recovery.

A Palaszczuk (Premier) and G Grace (Minister for Education), New schools continue to grow, more jobs for tradies, media release, 12 August 2020.

20 August 2020 The Queensland Premier released the next phase of the state’s economic recovery plan. Of particular relevance to schools and students were measures for ‘Building Queensland’ (priority area 4), including new school infrastructure, and ‘Investing in Skills’ (priority area 6), which included a focus on job pathways, education, and skills development.

Queensland Government, Queensland’s economic recovery plan, Queensland Government, August 2020.

28 August 2020 The Queensland Government announced that schoolies week events would not proceed in 2020. CHO Dr Jeannette Young had designated mass gatherings of young people of over multiple days as ‘high risk’.

A Palaszczuk (Premier) and S Miles (Deputy Premier and Minister for Health), COVID cancels Schoolies events, media release, 28 August 2020.

9 September 2020 Education Minister Grace Grace said that new figures showed investment in school infrastructure was helping to drive economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. G Grace (Minister for Education), Scale of extraordinary school

infrastructure program revealed, media release, 9 September 2020.

14 September 2020 The annual Showcase Awards for Excellence in Schools honoured leading Queensland government schools via a livestream video. Education Minister Grace Grace noted the importance of celebrating educational excellence in schools, despite COVID-19

G Grace (Minister for Education), Excellence in education on show at

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 37

restrictions, and congratulated teachers, ‘given the unique circumstances that have transpired since Term 2’. annual awards, media release, 14 September 2020.

20 November 2020 Education Minister Grace Grace farewelled and congratulated Year 12 students on their last day of school, acknowledging the challenges of the year. G Grace (Minister for Education), Farewell to class of 2020, media

release, 20 November 2020.

27 October 2020 The Department of Education advised of changes to the end of Term 4, stating that the last two days of the 2020 school year, Thursday 10 and Friday 11 December, would be student-free days and schools would be closed in recognition of the efforts of school-based staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Department of Education, ‘School holiday and term dates’, Department of Education website, updated 27 October 2020.

1 December 2020 The Queensland Government announced $14.2 billion in education funding in the 2020-21 State Budget. Education Minister Grace Grace said this included $1.9 billion of education infrastructure spending.

The Budget also included $100 million over three years for a student wellbeing package to ensure students in every government primary and secondary school have access to a psychologist or similar health and wellbeing professional.

Funding of $8 million over four years was allocated for an initiative to establish after-school homework centres at up to 120 government schools.

G Grace (Minister for Education), Budget bonanza for education, media release, 1 December 2020.

19 December 2020 Minister for Education Grace Grace congratulated the Class of 2020 ‘on their efforts through an exceptional year’, with 49,651 students graduating Year 12. Graduating students were the first in a new Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE) system with ATARs.

G Grace (Minister for Education), Class of 2020 arises to Year 12 results and ATARs, media release, 19 December 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 38

Table 6: South Australia

Milestones Details Source Documents

13 March 2020 The SA Government provided information to education sites about COVID-19. This included advice that a school or early childhood facility would be immediately closed for a minimum of 24 hours in the event of a confirmed case. Sites would only reopen on the advice of health experts.

All international student excursions and work-related staff travel to countries other than New Zealand was put on hold until the end of Term 2. The travel protocol would be reviewed as further information became available.

J Gardner (Minister for Education), Update on education protocols for coronavirus, media release, 13 March 2020.

24 March 2020 The SA Government announced an additional $5 million to increase contract cleaning and improve hygiene measures in SA government schools. S Marshall (Premier) and J Gardner (Minister for Education),

Government increases hygiene support for schools, media release, 24 March 2020.

25 March 2020 Minister for Education John Gardner launched the Our Learning SA website. The website supported home learning, providing access to curated curriculum resources. J Gardner (Minister for Education), New central website to support

home learning, media release, 25 March 2020.

26 March 2020 The Department for Education advised that SA government schools and preschools would have pupil-free days from 6 to 9 April to enable educators to prepare for school-based and home-based learning in Term 2.

The Department stated that out of school hours care (OSHC) and vacation care would continue to operate for students who needed it during pupil-free days and school holidays.

Department for Education, Pupil free days—6 to 9 April, news, 26 March 2020.

29 March 2020 All schools, early childhood facilities and OSHC services in the Barossa region were closed from Monday 30 March following a number of linked COVID-19 cases in Department for Education, COVID19: Barossa region closures,

news, 29 March 2020. [Link only shows a thumbnail from archived

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 39

people who had been in towns in the region. Schools in the region would be closed until advised by public health officials. Department of webpage; see also a Department for Education Facebook

post]

3 April 2020 Minister for Education John Gardner announced a new platform for SA government school teachers to create virtual classrooms. The platform complemented the Our Learning SA website.

J Gardner (Minister for Education), Virtual classrooms to assist student learning, media release, 3 April 2020.

9 April 2020 The SA Government announced a $2 million partnership with a local company to supply hand sanitiser for hospitals, schools and other government services. The partnership secured the supply of 20,000 bottles of hand sanitiser a week.

S Marshall (Premier) and S Wade (Minister for Health and Wellbeing), SA business to supply hand sanitiser, media release, 9 April 2020.

22 April 2020 CHO, Professor Nicola Spurrier, wrote a letter to parents and carers encouraging students to return to school in Term 2. The letter advised parents and carers that schools were safe.

N Spurrier (CHO), Letter to parents and carers, Department for Health and Wellbeing, 22 April 2020.

23 April 2020 Following the CHO’s letter to parents and carers, Minister for Education John Gardner advised that families should feel safe sending their children to school from the beginning of Term 2.

J Gardner (Minister for Education), Health advice clear on schools, media release, 23 April 2020.

23 April 2020 The SA Government announced that almost 500 schools and preschools would receive grants to undertake maintenance and upgrades as part of a $32 million stimulus package to be rolled out in 2020.

J Gardner (Minister for Education), School and preschool maintenance package to deliver local economic stimulus, media release, 23 April 2020.

23 April 2020 The SA Government announced that every SA preschool and children’s centre would receive a high-speed internet connection as part of the second stage of the high-speed internet rollout to education sites across the state. The expansion to preschools and children’s centres was due to be completed by mid-2021.

J Gardner (Minister for Education), High speed internet expanded to preschools, media release, 23 April 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 40

27 April 2020 Minister for Education John Gardner marked the return of students to SA schools and preschools for the start of Term 2. Mr Gardner noted that many schools were expecting higher attendance rates than before the break.

J Gardner (Minister for Education), Schools open for Term 2, media release, 27 April 2020.

1 May 2020 Minister for Education John Gardner stated that attendance at government schools had risen steadily during the first week of Term 2. Figures from the Department for Education showed that over 69 per cent of students across the state were learning at school. More than double the number of students were learning at school compared to the end of Term 1 and the attendance rate was similar to those in NT and WA.

J Gardner (Minister for Education), School attendance grows steadily, media release, 1 May 2020.

5 May 2020 The SA Government announced a relief package to support eight council-run child care centres that had suffered a significant loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The package would match the Australian Government’s support under the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package for a period of 12 weeks up until 28 June 2020 and backdated to 6 April, at a cost of around $700,000.

J Gardner (Minister for Education), Council-run child care centres receive support package, media release, 5 May 2020.

13 May 2020 The SA Government announced the beginning of construction on the first group of school upgrades as part of a $1.3 billion education capital works program. The capital works involved around 100 schools across the state, including the construction of three new schools. The measure was expected to provide thousands of jobs and assist the state’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

S Marshall (Premier) and J Gardner (Minister for Education), $1.3 billion building bonanza commences, media release, 13 May 2020.

11 June 2020 The SA Government announced that all 380 government preschools had received a $20,000 grant to complete priority maintenance work as part of a $7.6 million stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The preschool grants were in addition to $25 million worth of maintenance work that had been ‘fast tracked’ at 116 schools.

J Gardner (Minister for Education), Preschool grants to stimulate local economies, media release, 11 June 2020.

18 June 2020 Minister for Education John Gardner announced that restrictions on a number of important school activities would be lifted from 29 June. J Gardner (Minister for Education), Restrictions to lift on school

activities, media release, 18 June 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 41

5 July 2020 The SA Government launched a digital campaign, ‘You can… in Parks’ to encourage South Australians to visit the state’s parks and regions during the school holidays as COVID-19 restrictions eased.

D Speirs (Minister for Environment and Water), South Australians urged to get out and explore our parks, media release, 5 July 2020.

20 July 2020 Minister for Education John Gardner marked the return of SA students to school for Term 3, with many activities returning to normal as restrictions lifted.

Mr Gardner outlined activities that could take place and stated that parents, volunteers and service providers would also be able to enter school and preschool grounds, as long as health advice was followed.

J Gardner (Minister for Education), Term 3 a welcome return to normal for SA students, media release, 20 July 2020.

14 October 2020 The SA Government launched the Learning+ pilot program, to begin in 2021. Up to 2,000 students in government schools would have access to one-on-one maths tutoring, with qualified teachers delivering tutoring to students online for 30 minutes twice per week.

J Gardner (Minister for Education), COVID computer skills used to give students a tuition boost, media release, 14 October 2020.

2 November 2020 Minister for Education John Gardner marked the beginning of the major written exam period for Year 12 students for the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE), running until 18 November.

J Gardner (Minister for Education), Major SACE exam period underway, media release, 2 November 2020.

12 November 2020 As part of the 2020-21 SA Budget, the SA Government announced that schools and preschools would receive a $37 million maintenance ‘boost’ as part of a COVID-19 stimulus package, with grants for priority maintenance work.

J Gardner (Minister for Education), Kindy grants to give local tradies a boost, media release, 12 November 2020.

18 November 2020 Following a cluster of COVID-19 cases, the SA Government implemented ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions from 12.01 am Thursday 19 November for six days.

Only children of essential workers and vulnerable children would be able to attend school, preschool or child care.

Students were asked to take home school laptops or devices and books to enable them to continue learning from home.

SA Government, Circuit breaker restrictions in place from tonight, news, 18 November 2020.

Department for Education, COVID-19 update, news, 18 November 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 42

20 November 2020 The Department for Education advised that government schools and preschools would reopen to all students on Monday 23 November. Students not to attend were those self-isolating as directed by SA health, students asked to stay home on medical advice and unwell students.

Department for Education, COVID-19 update 20 November news, 20 November 2020.

30 November 2020 The SA Government launched ThankED, an online recognition platform for South Australian families to acknowledge SA education staff in government schools for their efforts in 2020. Minister for Education John Gardner encouraged families to send a note of thanks to education staff.

J Gardner (Minister for Education), Say ‘thanks’ to SA educators, media release, 30 November 2020.

11 December 2020 Minister for Education John Gardner marked the end of the school year for 2020. Mr Gardner praised educators and support staff for their work during a challenging year, noting that ‘South Australian students have benefitted from the least disruption to their learning this year of any students in Australia’.

J Gardner (Minster for Education), School’s out for 2020, media release, 11 December 2020.

15 December 2020 Minister for Education John Gardner congratulated the Class of 2020 and stated that a total of 15,119 students completed their SACE in 2020. Among those who completed their SACE were 402 Aboriginal students, up from 393 the previous year, and 323 students with an intellectual disability, up from 296 in 2019.

J Gardner (Minister for Education), 15,000 students complete their SACE, media release, 15 December 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 43

Table 7: Tasmania

Milestones Details Source Documents

27 February 2020 Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein and Minister for Health Sarah Courtney provided a COVID-19 update, noting that the Australian Government had commenced implementing its emergency response plan to the COVID-19 pandemic ahead of the World Health Organisation. The update noted that the Australian Government’s plan included information on how schools should react to a widespread outbreak.

P Gutwein (Premier) and S Courtney (Minister for Health), Coronavirus update, media release, 27 February 2020.

5 March 2020 The Tasmanian Department of Education provided an update on COVID-19 and implications for schools, libraries, child and family centres and other offices. It also provided a fact sheet for schools and families.

Department of Education, Novel coronavirus—update 5 March 2020, news, 5 March 2020.

15 March 2020 Following the first meeting of the National Cabinet, the Tasmanian Government announced requirements for returning international travellers to self-isolate for 14 days and restrictions on non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people. This restriction would not apply to schools, universities or workplaces; however, principles of social distancing would apply.

P Gutwein (Premier), Additional measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Tasmanians, media release, 15 March 2020.

15 March 2020 The Tasmanian Government announced it was asking schools to adopt social distancing measures until further notice. This would require assemblies, excursions, travel and some events and conferences to be cancelled. It would also require the postponement of non-essential school activities, such as fetes, fairs, concerts, sports carnivals, camps and parent teacher meetings.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Precautionary coronavirus measures to be implemented in Tasmanian schools, media release, 15 March 2020.

16 March 2020 The Department of Education provided an update with the precautionary measures announced by the Minister for Education and Training.

A fact sheet was developed for parents and carers about how to talk to their child about COVID-19.

Department of Education, Novel coronavirus - update 16 March 2020, news, 16 March 2020.

Department of Education, Talking to your child about Coronavirus, news, 16 March 2020.

17 March 2020 Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff noted that, although advice from the Director of Public Health did not require school closures, parents and carers may J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Supporting

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 44

have ‘a range of reasons for not sending their children to school in light of COVID-19’. In such cases, parents were asked to advise the school in writing, so that schools were aware the student would be absent. Usual absence rules would not apply.

Mr Rockliff also assured parents that the Department of Education had been working to develop a range of at-home learning materials should the advice on school closures change.

Tasmanian students and their families, media release, 17 March 2020.

18 March 2020 Following a meeting of the National Cabinet, Premier Peter Gutwein announced further restrictions on gatherings from 18 March. Non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people would not be allowed. The Tasmanian Government noted the current AHPPC advice that pre-emptive school closures were not an effective or proportionate public health intervention at this time. It noted that shorter school closures for defined periods might be considered as part of more stringent measures later in the outbreak.

P Gutwein (Premier), Additional measures to protect Tasmanians, media release, 18 March 2020.

20 March 2020 Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff announced, joining with other education ministers, the cancellation of NAPLAN for 2020. He emphasised that the priority was ensuring that principals and teachers could focus on supporting the learning and wellbeing of children and young people.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), NAPLAN testing cancelled for 2020, media release, 20 March 2020.

23 March 2020 The Department of Education posted an update:

In the event of a site closure your school will communicate with you.

Your school may move some or all [of] your child’s learning into online spaces. They may also use offline strategies to make sure all students have learning access.

Department of Education, Learning at home - support, news, 23 March 2020.

25 March 2020 The Tasmanian Government announced four student-free days in Tasmanian government schools from 6-9 April. This would enable professional learning and planning time for teachers and support staff to develop home learning delivery. The media release stated, ‘[f]rom today parents and carers may choose that their children are supported to learn at home, due to COVID-19’. School sites would continue to be open for students who could not learn at home.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Education in government schools, media release, 25 March 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 45

26 March 2020 The Tasmanian Government announced it would provide school levy relief for all parents/carers of students in Tasmanian government schools. Parents who had not yet paid their child’s levy would not be required to do so, instalment payments could stop, and those who had already paid would be reimbursed.

Department of Education, School levy relief for 2020, news, 26 March 2020.

26 March 2020 Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff provided an update for Year 11 and 12 students about the Tasmanian Certificate of Education (TCE), emphasising the Government’s aim that no student would be disadvantaged by COVID-19 in terms of university entrance and post-school opportunities. Secondary students were reassured that if they met the standards of the TCE, they would achieve it, with the TCE to provide a meaningful and comparable senior secondary certificate with those who finished Year 12 in 2019.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Tasmanian Certificate of Education update, media release, 26 March 2020.

27 March 2020 As part of a package to address family violence and enhance child safety and wellbeing, the Tasmanian Government announced $260,000 to ensure children and young people in care had internet access and mobile technology for communication and home learning.

R Jaensch (Minister for Human Services), Keeping Tasmanian children and families safe, media release, 27 March 2020.

29 March 2020 The Department of Education provided an update about learning at home, stating that school sites remained open for children who could not be supported to learn at home and that many schools had made materials available online and offline for students learning at home.

The Department also stated it had further developed the Learning At Home website with resources for students across age groups.

Department of Education, Learning at home update, news, 29 March 2020.

31 March 2020 The Tasmanian Government announced that Tasmanians were required to stay home unless getting food or essential supplies, going to work or school, exercising, or for medical or compassionate care reasons.

Guidance in relation to schools encouraged parents who could provide appropriate care for children at home to do so. Schools remained open for children needing to attend and were continuing to transition to a new operating model of supporting home and online learning.

P Gutwein (Premier), Keeping Tasmanians safe and secure - Stay Home, Save Lives, media release, 31 March 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 46

31 March 2020 The Department of Education posted information about the availability of support for school costs from the No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) Network of Tasmania, a not-for-profit community organisation funded by the state and federal governments. Families receiving a Centrelink benefit could apply for a no-interest loan of up to $1,500 to assist with the costs of purchasing a computer, laptop or tablet.

Department of Education, NILS Tasmania helping parents with school costs, news, 31 March 2020.

See also R Jaensch (Minister for Housing and Human Services) and J Rockliff (Minister for Disability Services and Community Development), Supporting Tasmanians in need, media release, 27 March 2020.

3 April 2020 Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff provided information about Term 2 for students at Tasmanian government schools, stating that the expectation was for students to learn from home during Term 2. School sites would remain open for students who could not learn at home.

Mr Rockliff stated that Term 2 would commence on Tuesday 28 April for students, with 27 April being a student-free day. Teachers would provide a weekly overview of what students’ days should entail and activities to support learning.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Term 2 learning for Tasmanian government school students, media release, 3 April 2020.

Department of Education, School Term 2—update, news, 3 April 2020.

3 April 2020 The Tasmanian Government announced the School Recommendation Program for Tasmanian Year 12 students as a measure to reduce pressure on students relating to COVID-19 education disruptions. The program would enable students to apply for most undergraduate courses and be made an offer by the University of Tasmania, based on the recommendation of their school and not just the results of formal assessments. The program required students to complete Year 12 studies, and would not replace other mechanisms like the ATAR, but aimed to provide assurance to students about their future earlier in the year.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Supporting Tasmanian Year 12 students into university, media release, 3 April 2020.

5 April 2020 Premier of Tasmania Peter Gutwein stated that Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff would conduct a live Q&A session to discuss the importance of P Gutwein (Premier), Special exemption for the Easter Bunny to

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 47

staying home during the holidays and how young people could remain connected during weeks away from school. travel to Tasmania, media release, 5 April 2020.

13 April 2020 The Department of Education provided information about restrictions put in place in North-West Tasmania in response to a COVID-19 cluster. It stated that all Department of Education staff in the region would work from home. This also meant that Department of Education schools, libraries and Child and Family Centres in the region would be closed for public access until 27 April 2020.

Early childhood education and care centres in the North-West could choose to only accept children where both parents had to leave home for essential work activities over the following two weeks.

Department of Education, Department of Education services on the North West coast, media release, 13 April 2020.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Childcare restrictions in the North-West, media release, 13 April 2020.

16 April 2020 The Tasmanian Government provided an update on the refund process for school levies paid to government schools (see 26 March announcement). J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Government school

levies refund process, media release, 16 April 2020.

16 April 2020 The Tasmanian Government announced $10 million for school revitalisation to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), School revitalisation

during COVID-19, media release, 16 April 2020.

24 April 2020 The Tasmanian Government announced that all government and Catholic schools in the North-West would remain closed due to additional COVID-19 restrictions in the region. Term 2 would commence on 4 May for students in the North-West. Parents of students at independent schools were advised to contact their school. Term 2 would commence on 28 April for the rest of the state.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), North West school closures, media release, 24 April 2020.

24 April 2020 Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff released a statement encouraging parents and carers to keep children at home where possible for the start of Term 2 on 28 April. School sites would be open for students who could not be supported to learn at home.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Term 2 in Tasmanian government schools, media release, 24 April 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 48

Mr Rockliff stated that a new Wellbeing Check-In tool would be available, allowing teachers to ask students about learning from home. Principals would be provided with guidelines for recording student participation and attendance, if appropriate.

27 April 2020 The Department of Education provided information about learning at home in Term 2, including fact sheets and a video to support families with how Term 2 would look. Department of Education, Learning at home in Term 2, news, 27 April

2020.

30 April 2020 Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff provided an update on planning for students’ return to face-to-face learning. He stated that the Department of Education had established a Recovery team to consider a range of options for returning students to the classroom. A key focus of the team was how to best support students in the early years and Years 11 and 12 as a priority. Mr Rockliff reiterated that the current advice was that home was the best place to learn if students could be supervised and supported.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Planning for students to return to school, media release, 30 April 2020.

1 May 2020 The Tasmanian Government announced that additional measures in the North-West would be lifted from midnight Monday 4 May. This included re-opening schools in the North West for students who could not learn at home. Other students should continue to learn from home.

P Gutwein (Premier), Additional North West COVID-19 measures to be lifted, media release, 1 May 2020.

8 May 2020 The Department of Education outlined a staged timeline to re-open government schools by early June. The approach aimed to manage the movement of people across the community as restrictions were lifted.

From Monday 25 May students from kindergarten to Year 6 and all Year 11 and 12 students would return to school. The remaining students would return from Tuesday 9 June.

Department of Education, Tasmanian students to return to learning at school, news, 8 May 2020.

15 May 2020 The Tasmanian Government released further information about the $10 million School Revitalisation Maintenance Package (see 16 April announcement). Approximately 280 projects across 125 sites would be distributed across all regions and local contractors would be employed to undertake the work.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), School revitalisation fund supporting small business and jobs, media release, 15 May 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 49

24 May 2020 Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff marked the return of primary students and Year 11 and 12 students to the classroom the next day. Years 7-10 students would not return until 9 June.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Welcome back to class for Tasmanian students, media release, 24 May 2020.

29 May 2020 The Department of Education advised of changes to mid-year reporting for students’ progress. Following Australian Government advice, there would be flexibility for 2020 mid-year reporting. The usual requirement for schools to report A-E ratings for students twice a year as a condition of Australian Government funding was being replaced by a requirement for teachers to communicate with parents/carers by the end of July.

Department of Education, Mid-year reporting for Prep to Year 10, news, 29 May 2020.

2 June 2020 The Department of Education provided information for Year 11 and 12 students, noting that stakeholders, including the Office of Tasmanian Assessment, Standards and Certification (TASC), the Department of Education, other school sectors, the University of Tasmania and public and private registered training organisations had been working together to address issues that might affect the attainment of the Tasmanian Qualifications Certificate, TCE and the calculation of ATAR scores.

The Department of Education confirmed that TCE external assessments would be going ahead in 2020; however, some adjustments would be made to support student wellbeing.

Students were reassured that they would receive an ATAR comparable with other Year 12 students.

Department of Education, 2020 external assessment specifications - available now, news, 2 June 2020.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), TCE end of year exams, media release, 2 June 2020.

3 June 2020 With around 45,000 primary and Year 11 and 12 students returning to school sites the previous week, Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff outlined work underway to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on student learning and wellbeing and ensure that students were not disadvantaged as a result.

He stated that a range of resources were in place, including the Wellbeing Check-In (see 24 April announcement). Teachers would also be assessing student learning and implementing measures for students needing additional assistance to catch up.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Supporting student wellbeing and learning post COVID, media release, 3 June 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 50

Adjustments had been made to Years 11 and 12 curriculum, assessment and exams.

4 June 2020 The Tasmanian Government announced a two-year ‘construction blitz’ which included bringing forward $3.5 million to begin work on Devonport High School as part of a $10.5 million redevelopment and an additional $7 million for Child and Family Learning Centres as part of a $28 million investment.

P Gutwein (Premier), Two year blitz to generate $3.1 billion in construction value, media release, 4 June 2020.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Additional funding for Child and Family Learning Centres, media release, 4 June 2020.

10 June 2020 The Department of Education announced the launch of its Physical Wellbeing and the Environment Action Plan, a resource under the Child and Student Wellbeing Strategy. The Department noted that COVID-19 had highlighted the connection between wellbeing and learning and the important role of schools in supporting the wellbeing of children, young people and families.

Department of Education, Physical Wellbeing and the Environment Action plan launched, news, 10 June 2020.

12 June 2020 The Department of Education announced that all external assessment adjustments for 2020 were finalised and published on the TASC website.

The 2020 Folio External Assessment Dates were republished, with the due date for some courses pushed back to support student wellbeing.

Department of Education, All 2020 external assessment adjustments now finalised, news, 12 June 2020.

17 June 2020 The Tasmanian Government announced the ‘Bounce Back to Learning at School’ program for students in kindergarten to Year 2 to support students after learning at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the program, early learning educators would provide support and work in partnership with teachers to identify learner needs, and provide resources and tailored learning opportunities. The program also included the Talk and Read Project providing almost 8,000 families with materials for learners at home.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Supporting early learners to ‘bounce back’, media release, 17 June 2020.

27 June 2020 The Tasmanian Government announced it would double support available under the Ticket to Play program, from $100 to $200 for eligible applicants aged from 5-17, to J Howlett (Minister for Sport and Recreation), Doubling down on

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 51

support the sport and recreation sector. The program provides vouchers to redeem against a chosen sport. ticket to play program, media release, 27 June 2020.

30 June 2020 The Tasmanian Government announced it was waiving all Tasmanian government school debts for 2019 and before to reduce financial pressures and support Tasmanian families in recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This covered approximately 13,000 outstanding individual debts totalling around $2.8 million.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Outstanding Tasmanian government school levies waived, media release, 30 June 2020.

30 June 2020 Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff announced the launch of a new guide for parents and carers, Learning at School - Parents and Carers Guide, which detailed what to expect for the return to school for Term 3. The guide included information about cleaning and hygiene in schools and the activities and programs that could resume in Term 3.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Term 3 guide for parents and carers, media release, 30 June 2020.

12 July 2020 The Tasmanian Government outlined progress on projects as part of the $10 million School Revitalisation Maintenance Program (see 16 April announcement). General maintenance projects had been approved at 118 school sites, with a total of $2.8 million worth of projects completed across 74 sites.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), 118 school sites benefit from School Revitalisation stimulus, media release, 12 July 2020.

29 July 2020 Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff congratulated the more than 1,600 Year 12 students in Tasmania who had received an offer to study with the University of Tasmania in 2021 under the School Recommendation Program.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), School Recommendation Program, media release, 29 July 2020.

5 August 2020 Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff announced the reopening of Field Study Centres across Tasmania. Field Study Centres provide opportunities for students to engage in the environment through hands-on experiences.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Field Study Centres open for business again, media release, 5 August 2020.

18 August 2020 The Tasmanian Government announced it would provide an additional $1.5 million to all Tasmanian schools for a school excursion voucher scheme. J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Enriching educational

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 52

As well as providing students with learning experiences, the initiative was intended to support Tasmanian tourism sites in COVID-19 recovery. experiences, media release, 18 August 2020.

20 August 2020 Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff announced that the Student Assistance Scheme (STAS), which waives Tasmanian Government levies for eligible students, would be expanded for the 2021 school year onwards.

More than 9,000 additional students would become eligible for STAS as eligibility rules changed to use the Health Care Card or equivalent as the assessment mechanism, rather than income thresholds.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Reducing the cost of public education for low income families, media release, 20 August 2020.

24 August 2020 Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff announced the establishment of a cross-sector Ministerial Advisory Committee to provide advice on how COVID-19 impacted Tasmanian students’ learning. Key focus areas would be early years learning, Years 11 and 12, student wellbeing and second wave planning.

The Committee would remain in place until March 2021 and comprised representatives from Catholic Education Tasmania, Independent Schools Tasmania and the Department of Education.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Responding to the impacts of COVID-19 on student learning, media release, 24 August 2020.

4 September 2020 The Department of Education, together with Public Health, announced they had developed guidance to allow celebrations and social events (including school formals) to occur on school sites. Events would be able to go ahead but would need to comply with current Public Health directions.

Department of Education, School celebrations and social events, news, 4 September 2020.

10 September 2020 Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff highlighted the student-led work being undertaken during Suicide Awareness Week and the importance of support, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Students taking the lead to promote suicide awareness, media release, 10 September 2020.

24 September 2020 Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff announced further support for Tasmanian Year 11 and 12 students at risk of not meeting the requirements of the TCE in 2020-21.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), More support for Year 11 and 12 students, media release, 24 September 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 53

5 October 2020 Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff outlined the Tasmanian Government’s funding and initiatives to support mental health and wellbeing in schools.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Supporting mental health and wellbeing in our schools, media release, 5 October 2020.

20 October 2020 Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff released the 2020 Student Wellbeing Survey Statewide Report.

Approximately 30,000 Tasmanian students in Years 4-12 participated in the survey undertaken in Term 3, 2020. The data provided insight into student wellbeing during COVID-19 challenges. Results indicated that student wellbeing was relatively stable compared to the previous year.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Insight into student wellbeing, media release, 20 October 2020.

4 November 2020 Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff marked the beginning of TCE written exams on Monday 9 November for Year 11 and 12 students. Mr Rockliff also outlined measures to support Year 11 and 12 students, including reviewing and adjusting courses and assessments.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Supporting TCE students as they prepare for end of year exams and assessments, media release, 4 November 2020.

5 November 2020 The Department of Education held the event ‘Extraordinary! A Celebration of Collaboration’ to celebrate overcoming the challenges of the year. The event was live-streamed across the state and included student performances, videos of stories of working through the pandemic and recognition of staff who had reached 25 years of service in the last year.

Department of Education, Extraordinary! A Celebration of Collaboration, news, 16 November 2020.

12 November 2020 As part of the 2020-21 Budget, the Tasmanian Government announced funding of $7.5 billion over the forward estimates in education and training. Measures included $38.9 million to employ more teachers and reduce the instructional load for primary school teachers, to provide more time for lesson planning and $12.8 million for an additional 35 quality teaching coaches. The Government also provided funding for education infrastructure across the state, with the capital investment program to provide $204 million over four years.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Record investment in Tasmania’s future through education, media release, 12 November 2020.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), $204 million investment in education

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 54

infrastructure, media release, 12 November 2020.

12 November 2020 In the 2020-21 Budget, the Tasmanian Government provided additional funding to support students impacted by trauma or with emotional and behavioural challenges, bringing the total to $14 million over the forward estimates.

Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff emphasised the importance of the initiative following the impacts of COVID-19.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Additional support for students impacted by trauma, media release, 12 November 2020.

17 December 2020 Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff congratulated the more than 11,350 senior secondary students who received their results from TASC. Despite COVID-19 disruptions, preliminary data showed an increasing percentage of students achieved the TCE and the Tasmanian Certificate of Educational Achievement compared to preliminary data from the previous year.

J Rockliff (Minister for Education and Training), Tasmanian students receive their TCE results, media release, 17 December 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 55

Table 8: Victoria

Milestones Details Source Documents

10 March 2020 Premier Daniel Andrews, Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos and Victoria’s CHO Professor Brett Sutton released the COVID-19 Pandemic Plan for the Victorian Health Sector. The plan set out a four-stage response to COVID-19.

Stage 2, the targeted action stage, included proactive and reactive school closure measures to slow the peak of the outbreak.

D Andrews (Premier), J Mikakos (Minister for Health) and B Sutton (CHO), Victoria’s health system preparing for COVID-19 pandemic, media release, 10 March 2020.

16 March 2020 A State of Emergency was declared in Victoria to combat COVID-19, beginning on Monday 16 March at midday and in force for four weeks. The Victorian Government stated that the State of Emergency would provide the CHO with powers to enforce 14-day isolation requirements for travellers entering Australia and to cancel mass gatherings of more than 500 people, as agreed by National Cabinet.

Gatherings deemed to be essential and able to continue included public transport, food markets and workplaces. Schools, TAFEs and universities would remain open ‘for now’ but were asked to restrict mass gatherings such as assemblies and lectures of over 500 people.

D Andrews (Premier) and J Mikakos (Minister for Health), State of Emergency declared in Victoria over COVID-19, media release, 16 March 2020.

18 March 2020 The Victorian Government announced additional restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19, stating that indoor public gatherings of more than 100 people would be banned under changes to the State of Emergency, following an agreement by the National Cabinet.

Schools, child care centres and universities would remain open.

D Andrews (Premier), More restrictions put in place in the fight against COVID-19, media release, 18 March 2020.

18 March 2020 Minister for Education James Merlino launched the new Learning From Home website to help teachers support student learning in the event a school was closed because of COVID-19.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), New website to help closed schools continue teaching, media release, 18 March 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 56

22 March 2020 Premier Daniel Andrews announced his intention to inform the National Cabinet that Victoria would shut down non-essential activity over the next 48 hours. School holidays would be brought forward to start on Tuesday 24 March. Any decision to re-open schools after the holidays would be made following advice from the Victorian CHO.

D Andrews (Premier), Statement from the Premier, media release, 22 March 2020.

23 March 2020 Premier Daniel Andrews announced the decision of the National Cabinet to implement Stage 1 shutdown of non-essential activity nationwide. Mr Andrews also confirmed that school holidays would be brought forward to 24 March, enabling teachers and staff to plan for flexible and remote learning.

D Andrews (Premier), Statement from the Premier, media release, 23 March 2020.

5 April 2020 The Victorian Government announced that parents would be able to send children to sessional kindergarten for free during Term 2, providing up to $45 million in extra funding to support kindergarten providers.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), Free sessional kinder for Victorian kids, media release, 5 April 2020.

7 April 2020 Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Education (also Minister for the Coordination of Education and Training—COVID-19 from April to November 2020), James Merlino announced arrangements for remote learning and changes to timelines for the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) following advice from the CHO.

The announcement stated that during Term 2: ’all children who can learn at home must learn from home - with exceptions only in extremely limited circumstances’.

On-site learning would be available to students whose parents could not work at home and for vulnerable students. Arrangements were to remain in place for Term 2 and then be reviewed.

To support remote learning, the Government said it would provide free internet access and laptops for students needing it the most, loaning laptops and tablets to students and providing SIM cards and SIM-enabled dongle devices.

The announcement also outlined changes to arrangements for VCE and Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) students.

D Andrews (Premier) and J Merlino (Minister for Education), Victorian students to learn from home, as VCE timelines revised, media release, 7 April 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 57

23 April 2020 Minister for Education James Merlino announced an extra 21,000 internet dongles would be available to help meet the demand for internet access from Victorian students following the move to remote and flexible learning. The first tranche of SIM cards and dongles was rolled out to schools, prioritising senior secondary students, students in bushfire-affected areas and families who could not afford an internet connection at home.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), Extra devices and internet delivered for remote learning, media release, 23 April 2020.

8 May 2020 The Victorian Government announced $900,000 in grants for kindergartens to help children learn at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The package would enable kindergartens to access the Goodstart@home online platform and free professional learning activities for early childhood staff to help deliver programs remotely. Services could also use the funding for additional educator and teacher hours to develop and deliver learning from home programs.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), Helping kinder kids to learn from home, media release, 8 May 2020.

12 May 2020 The Victorian Government announced that government school students would begin a phased return to classrooms by year group, beginning with Prep, Year 1 and Year 2 students, specialist school students, and VCE and VCAL students on 26 May, followed by students in Years 3-10 on Tuesday 9 June.

The staged approach was to give the Government and CHO time to monitor and evaluate the effects of the return to school and transmission within the community.

The Government also announced it would provide up to $45 million for increased daily cleaning at government schools in Terms 2 and 3.

D Andrews (Premier), Getting our kids back into the classroom, media release, 12 May 2020.

17 May 2020 Minister for Education James Merlino announced $2.6 million in grant funding to support kindergarten services with cleaning and hygiene costs in Term 2. The grants would be available as part of the $45 million in funding to support kindergarten providers (see 5 April announcement).

The Government would provide grants of $900 for kindergarten services with fewer than 50 enrolments and $1,500 for services with 50 or more enrolments.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), Free cleaning grants for kinders, media release, 17 May 2020.

18 May 2020 The Victorian Government announced that more than $1.18 billion in education and school infrastructure projects was included as part of its $2.7 billion Building Works J Merlino (Minister for Education), Building Works: better schools in

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 58

package, which aimed to return people to work and stimulate the economy. The projects would fix old buildings, provide extra classrooms, and build ten new schools, providing space for more than 21,000 extra students and creating more than 1,600 construction jobs.

The announcement included $27.7 million for the Building Blocks program, which would provide grants to increase capacity for kindergarten places, upgrade facilities, and to increase access to technology.

education jobs blitz, media release, 18 May 2020.

D Andrews (Premier), Building Works: more jobs for Victorians, media release, 18 May 2020.

22 May 2020 Minister for Education James Merlino released details for VCE exams, with exams to start in early November and results available by the end of the year. Due to an earlier than expected return to face-to-face learning, this was a month earlier than expected when remote learning was first announced.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), Certainty for students with exams to start in November, media release, 22 May 2020.

26 May 2020 Minister for Education James Merlino marked the first step of the staged return to face-to-face learning with around 40,000 students in Prep, Grade 1, Grade 2, VCE and VCAL and specialist schools returning to classrooms.

Mr Merlino also announced a summit to be held in June to learn from the learning from home experience.

Mr Merlino outlined safety measures in place in schools. Staff were prioritised for voluntary COVID-19 testing in the lead-up to the return of on-site teaching.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), First wave of students back in the classroom, media release, 26 May 2020.

29 May 2020 Minister for Education James Merlino encouraged Victorians to nominate an individual or organisation for a Victorian Early Years Award. With services continuing to operate, the announcement emphasised the importance of early childhood education and care during the pandemic.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), Awards recognise Victoria’s early years professionals, media release, 29 May 2020.

8 June 2020 With thousands of children in Years 3-10 returning to classrooms across Melbourne the next day, Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne highlighted the need for vigilance around trains. Rail staff had been running virtual learning sessions with children on rail safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

M Horne (Minister for Public Transport), Rail safety warning as more children return to school, media release, 8 June 2020.

9 June 2020 Minister for Education James Merlino opened a community consultation survey on remote and flexible learning. The consultation would provide insights into lessons J Merlino (Minister for Education), Have your say on remote and

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 59

learnt during the pandemic and improvements that could be made to the education system ahead of a summit to be held in July. An independent analysis of remote learning at schools across Victoria and reports on the remote learning experience would also inform the summit.

flexible learning, media release, 9 June 2020.

9 June 2020 Minister for Education James Merlino marked the return of Victorian students in Years 3-10 to the classroom in the final stage of returning to face-to-face learning.

Mr Merlino also announced schools would be able to apply for a new $20 million Minor Capital Works Fund.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), All students back in the classroom, media release, 9 June 2020.

24 June 2020 The Victorian Government announced that the reduced-fee kindergarten program would continue during Term 3, with funding of $230 per child for Term 3 expected to save approximately half of parents’ average fee costs.

The Government also stated it would provide kindergarten services with a second round of grants for additional cleaning.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), Keeping sessional kinder fees low for Term 3, media release, 24 June 2020.

7 July 2020 Premier Daniel Andrews announced that Stage 3 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions would be reinstated across metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire from 11.59 pm on Wednesday 8 July for six weeks.

Mr Andrews confirmed that Year 11 and 12 students in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire would go back to school for Term 3 as planned, along with special schools.

For students in Prep to Year 10, the school holidays would be extended by one week; however, Mr Andrews flagged that a return to remote learning was possible.

D Andrews (Premier), Statement from the Premier, media release, 7 July 2020.

9 July 2020 The Victorian Government announced that daily temperature checks would be introduced in schools across metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire following advice of the CHO.

More than 14,000 non-contact infrared thermometers would be provided to government, independent and Catholic schools. The Government would also provide thermometers to early childhood education and care services requiring them.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), Temperature checks to be introduced in Term 3, media release, 9 July 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 60

For a student with a temperature of 37.5 degrees or above, schools would be required to contact parents/carers to arrange for students to return home. Families would be encouraged to seek testing or advice from a healthcare professional.

12 July 2020 The Victorian Government announced that students at schools in areas under Stage 3 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions would return to remote learning at the start of Term 3. Students in Prep to Year 10 at government schools in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire would learn from home from Monday 20 July until at least Wednesday 19 August. This followed five pupil-free days already scheduled for the week starting Monday 13 July.

On-site supervision would be available for students not able to be supervised at home.

Students in Years 11 and 12 and Year 10 students attending schools for VCE or VCAL classes would return to face-to-face learning from Monday 13 July.

Schools in regional and rural Victoria (apart from the Mitchell Shire) would return to on-site learning from 13 July.

A range of wellbeing resources were also being introduced to support students, parents and teachers.

D Andrews (Premier) and J Merlino (Minister for Education), Return to flexible and remote learning, media release, 12 July 2020.

13 July 2020 Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley launched a new program to support young people’s mental health, Orygen’s digital platform MOST (Moderated Online Social Therapy), funded by the Victorian Government. The announcement stated that $6 million to ‘fast track’ the rollout of the program had been included in the Government’s recent $59.4 million COVID-19 mental health package.

The announcement also outlined other measures to support young people as part of the COVID-19 mental health support package. This included more than $19 million for mental health and psychosocial supports for young people, and $6.7 million to expand online and phone counselling services for Beyond Blue, Lifeline, Kids Helpline and Suicide Line Victoria.

D Andrews (Premier), Supporting the mental health of young Victorians, media release, 13 July 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 61

The Government announced that Smiling Mind (a not-for-profit meditation program) would also produce resources for senior secondary students to support mental health and wellbeing.

20 July 2020 The Victorian Government announced that all students aged 12 and over and staff attending school in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire would be required to wear a face covering or mask when at school from Thursday 23 July. Masks would not be mandatory for teachers while teaching. Specialist schools and primary schools were exempt.

The Victorian Government had ordered 1.37 million reusable fabric masks to be delivered across July and August.

D Andrews (Premier), Face coverings and masks for metro schools, media release, 20 July 2020.

2 August 2020 Premier Daniel Andrews announced changes to restrictions in Melbourne following rising COVID-19 cases. The state would enter a State of Disaster from 6 pm that night. At that time, Melbourne would enter Stage 4 restrictions, which would include a curfew from 8 pm to 5 am and time and distance restrictions on exercise and shopping.

Mr Andrews stated that schools would return to remote and flexible learning across all year levels. Students currently attending on site—including senior students and students in specialist schools—would attend school on Monday 3 August, have a pupil-free day on Tuesday 4 August, and be learning at home from Wednesday 5 August.

On-site supervision would be offered but only for students ‘who really need it’.

From Thursday 6 August, the same rules would apply to Melbourne’s kindergarten and early childhood education services.

D Andrews (Premier), Statement on changes to Melbourne’s restrictions, media release, 2 August 2020.

2 August 2020 Premier Daniel Andrews announced that from 11.59 pm on Wednesday 5 August regional Victoria would return to Stage 3 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions.

Regional schools would return to remote and flexible learning across all year levels state-wide. Specialist schools would be the only exception. On-site supervision would be made available for students needing it, including children whose parents were

D Andrews (Premier), Statement on changes to regional restrictions, media release, 2 August 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 62

permitted workers and vulnerable children who could not learn from home. Changes would be in place for at least the next six weeks.

5 August 2020 Premier Daniel Andrews announced that under Stage 4 restrictions beginning at 11.59 pm that night, only the children of permitted workers and vulnerable children would be able access childcare and kindergarten. A permitted worker included someone working from home for the purposes of accessing childcare or kindergarten.

D Andrews (Premier), Childcare and kinder access for permitted workers, media release, 5 August 2020.

7 August 2020 The Victorian Government announced more support for VCE students and further mental health resources.

Premier Daniel Andrews stated that the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) would introduce a ‘Consideration of Educational Disadvantage’ process to calculate VCE scores to account for disruptions to learning from the pandemic. Every Victorian student would be individually assessed and impacts of the pandemic reflected in ATAR rankings.

The Government also announced $28.5 million to assist students struggling with their mental health.

D Andrews (Premier), Supporting students through the pandemic, media release, 7 August 2020.

9 August 2020 The Victorian Government announced an extension to free sessional kindergarten support, with all kindergarten in Victoria to be free for Term 3.

A further $1.6 million in grants would also be available via the School Readiness Funding programs for kindergartens to help deliver early childhood education to children learning from home. The funding would be available to services that were not yet receiving funding through the $160 million School Readiness Funding initiative.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), Free kinder for families through coronavirus, media release, 9 August 2020.

14 August 2020 The Victorian Government announced additional support for educators and teachers to prepare children for their transition from kindergarten to school in 2021. S Kilkenny (Parliamentary Secretary for Early Childhood Education),

Support for educators helping students start school, media release, 14 August 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 63

26 August 2020 The Victorian Government announced a range of free online resources to help parents and carers manage home learning and stay resilient during the pandemic.

The Government also partnered with the Raising Children Network and funded a 10-episode podcast called ‘Raising Learners’. Themes for the podcast were drawn from common parent questions received by the Department’s COVID-19 hotline and Parentline.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), Online wellbeing support for families, media release, 26 August 2020.

1 September 2020 The Victorian Government announced maintenance and safety works at more than 400 schools ‘to support jobs and local businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic and improve facilities for students and staff across Victoria.’

Schools would share in more than $15.3 million of funding as part of the 2020-21 Bushfire Preparedness (Vegetation) Program and Planned Maintenance Program.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), Building better, safer schools across Victoria, media release, 1 September 2020.

1 September 2020 The Victorian Government announced it would upgrade and build new kindergartens across the state so all children could access three-year-old kindergarten. As part of the Building Blocks program, the Minister for Education announced 13 projects would share in more than $13.8 million in the first round of grants.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), Kinder upgrades across the state, media release, 1 September 2020.

6 September 2020 Premier Daniel Andrews released a statement outlining a roadmap for the state’s reopening. Melbourne was currently in Stage 4 restrictions, and regional Victoria was in Stage 3.

From 11.59 pm on 13 September, Melbourne would take the ‘First Step towards COVID Normal’, and regional Victoria would jump to the ‘Second Step’. The steps would be guided by dates and data. Case targets would be ‘trigger points’ for review for the public health team.

First Step arrangements would be in place until at least 28 September.

Students would begin a staged return to on-site learning from Term 4.

D Andrews (Premier), Statement from the Premier, media release, 6 September 2020.

Victorian Government, ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) roadmap to reopening’, Victorian Government website, archived via Trove as at 8 September 2020.

11 September 2020 Minister for Education James Merlino announced more secondary students would have access to school-based mental health support. Recognising the increased mental health challenges posed by the pandemic, the rollout of the Mental Health

J Merlino (Minister for Education), More mental health support for

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 64

Practitioners initiative would be brought forward to be completed by the end of 2021.

Under the $51.2 million initiative, schools would receive funding to recruit mental health practitioners. Depending on schools’ size and requirements, all government secondary schools would receive between one and five days a week of support from a mental health practitioner.

Victorian students, media release, 11 September 2020.

17 September 2020 The Victorian Government announced additional funding of $26.7 million to support early childhood services as they reopened on 5 October 2020. The funding was to enable sessional kindergarten to remain free for most families in Term 4 and to provide children with additional support as they prepared to transition to school.

The Victorian Government would also provide 5,300 vulnerable children up to five extra hours of kindergarten per week to help them catch up on missed learning before starting school.

Under the Victorian Government’s roadmap to reopening, child care services would be open for all children from 28 September. Sessional kindergarten services would open from 5 October.

D Andrews (Premier), Getting our kids back to kinder and ready for school, media release, 17 September 2020.

21 September 2020 Minister for Education James Merlino announced that school camps and face-to-face learning would resume in Term 4 in regional and rural Victoria. School camps would be limited to single schools and could only take place in regional and rural Victoria.

Mr Merlino outlined arrangements for returning to classrooms. Students in Prep to Year 6 in standalone primary schools in regional and rural Victoria would return to on-site learning from Monday 5 October.

Year 11 and 12 students and Year 10 students studying VCE and VCAL subjects could also attend on site for the General Achievement Test (GAT) and essential assessments during this week.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), School camps to return for regional and rural Victoria, media release, 21 September 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 65

In P-12 schools in regional and rural Victoria, students in Prep to Year 6 would return to on-site learning from Thursday 8 October. All other students would return from Monday 12 October.

Schools would have the flexibility to stagger the return of students, depending on local circumstances.

21 September 2020 Premier Daniel Andrews marked the first day of the school holidays. He highlighted online activities and events via the Victoria Together platform and reminded families of the importance of staying home.

D Andrews (Premier), Keeping young minds active and engaged these holidays, media release, 21 September 2020.

5 October 2020 The Victorian Government released a roadmap for the final stage of students returning to on-site learning, subject to final health advice. Students in Year 7 in metropolitan Melbourne would return to classrooms from Monday 12 October and students in Years 8-10 would return from Monday 26 October, with both cohorts subject to risk-mitigation strategies.

In metropolitan Melbourne, primary school students, students studying VCE and VCAL, and students attending specialist schools, would return to on-site learning from Monday 12 October.

Students in rural and regional Victoria were returning to the classroom in a staggered approach from this day, depending on their year level and local circumstances.

D Andrews (Premier), Roadmap for all students [sic] return to the classroom, media release, 5 October 2020.

13 October 2020 The Victorian Government announced a $250 million package to deploy more than 4,100 tutors across Victorian schools in 2021. D Andrews (Premier), Thousands of tutors to bring students up to speed,

media release, 13 October 2020.

19 October 2020 Minister for Education James Merlino announced $145 million for more than 50 projects under the Non-Government Schools Capital Fund.

Funding for the second round had been brought forward to help stimulate the economy and create jobs. It was expected that the funding would create more than 800 jobs during construction.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), Building better schools faster and driving economic recovery, media release, 19 October 2020.

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25 October 2020 Although there were no changes for Melbourne’s restrictions due to the number of new cases, Premier Daniel Andrews announced changes for regional Victoria following low numbers of regional cases. Mr Andrews stated restrictions would ease from 11.59 pm on Tuesday 27 October, as part of the Third Step. This would include allowing school graduations to be held within school communities.

D Andrews (Premier), Statement from the Premier, media release, 25 October 2020.

26 October 2020 Minister for Education James Merlino marked the return of the remaining Victorian students to the classroom, with 163,000 students in Years 8-10 in metropolitan Melbourne returning to on-site learning in the final stage of the staggered return.

Mr Merlino stated that graduation ceremonies could commence in the term. Applying to both regional and metropolitan schools, COVIDSafe measures needed to be in place and only students from the graduating year and school staff could attend. Ceremonies would be broadcast to families.

Additional support was provided as students returned, with schools being provided with additional expert advice to identify and address gaps in the implementation of health and safety strategies.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), Every student returns to the classroom, media release, 26 October 2020.

1 November 2020 The Victorian Government announced a $45.2 million package to assist with community sports costs and to assist children become more active as the state moved towards ‘COVID normal’.

The $21 million Get Active Kids Voucher Program would support children to be involved in organised activities by providing $200 vouchers to help families with the cost of sports equipment, uniforms or memberships. The package would also provide more opportunities to participate in sport at school as part of the Active Schools Program.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), Getting kids moving again as we cut costs for families, media release, 1 November 2020.

10 November 2020 VCE exams officially began. In recognition of the challenges and the different ways they have impacted schools and students, the VCAA introduced the new Consideration of Educational Disadvantage process for calculating VCE scores.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), VCE exams get underway, media release, 10 November 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 67

24 November 2020 Minister for Education James Merlino announced more than $3 billion for school upgrades in the 2020-21 Victorian Budget. J Merlino (Minister for Education), Building the future our kids deserve,

media release, 24 November 2020.

24 November 2020 Minister for Education James Merlino announced that the 2020-21 Victorian Budget included $24.4 million to allow students to keep mobile and digital devices loaned to them during the pandemic.

Mr Merlino also stated that $7.4 million was allocated to continue the Marrung strategy and programs to help Aboriginal students stay engaged in their education.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), A better vocational education for school students, media release, 24 November 2020.

24 November 2020 Minister for Education James Merlino announced that the 2020-21 Victorian Budget included nearly $1.6 billion for students with disability in Victorian government schools, which would double the number of students receiving extra support in the classroom and create an expected 1,730 jobs by 2025.

J Merlino (Minister for Education) and L Donnellan (Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers), Help where it’s needed: supporting Victorians with disability, media release, 24 November 2020.

24 November 2020 Minister for Early Childhood Ingrid Stitt and Minister for Education James Merlino announced early childhood education measures in the 2020-21 Victorian Budget, including:

• $169.6 million to help cover the cost of kindergarten for up to 100,000 Victorian

families

• an extra $30 million for the Refurbishment and Minor Works grant program to

support minor capital works in Victorian kindergartens, and

• almost $6.2 million for early intervention specialist support to help parents and

children struggling due to the pandemic.

I Stitt (Minister for Early Childhood) and J Merlino (Minister for Education), Helping families juggling it all, media release, 24 November 2020.

2 December 2020 Minister for Education James Merlino announced that 328 schools would receive funding to ‘fast track’ priority projects under the $70 million Minor Capital Works Fund. The projects would commence early in 2021.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), Supporting small-scale school building projects, media release, 2 December 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 68

14 December 2020 Minister for Education James Merlino announced that applications were open for round three of the Non-Government Schools Capital Fund, which supports projects such as building new schools, upgrading facilities, and removing asbestos and cladding.

The Victorian Government was contributing $402 million to fund upgrades for non-government schools and had allocated $249 million to date.

The opening of round three was brought forward to ensure the creation of more local jobs.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), Non-government schools to share in funding boost, media release, 14 December 2020.

24 December 2020 Minister for Education James Merlino announced an additional 15 primary schools would join the Mental Health in Primary Schools pilot, a partnership with Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

The expansion of the pilot was part of a $28.5 million package of mental health initiatives announced in August to support students to work through any mental health challenges they face due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

J Merlino (Minister for Education), More mental health support in more primary schools, media release, 24 December 2020.

30 December 2020 Acting Minister for Education Gayle Tierney announced that more than 64,800 Victorian students had received their VCE or VCAL results. To calculate VCE scores, every student had been assessed via the ‘Consideration of Educational Disadvantage’ process to mitigate adverse impacts from the pandemic or bushfires.

G Tierney (Acting Minister for Education), The wait is over for VCE and VCAL students, media release, 30 December 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 69

Table 9: Western Australia

Milestones Details Source Documents

9 March 2020 Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery announced that, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a ban on school-related international excursions had been extended to travel to Canada and the USA. The ban extension applied to government, independent and Catholic schools, following advice from the CHO. New Zealand was the only country where international travel for WA school groups would be considered.

Media reported on 3 March that the WA Government had banned international travel for school students, except to the USA, Canada and New Zealand, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

S Ellery (Minister for Education and Training), School travel ban extended to United States and Canada, media release, 9 March 2020.

11 March 2020 The WA Government released the Western Australian Government Pandemic Plan, updated for COVID-19. The plan supported a suite of specific health and emergency management plans.

Response strategies included arrangements for schools and other educational facilities. It set out information to assist educational facilities in preparing for and responding to a pandemic.

M McGowan (Premier) and R Cook (Deputy Premier), Updated WA Government Pandemic Plan released in response to COVID-19, media release, 11 March 2020.

17 March 2020 The WA School Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCSA) wrote to principals of WA secondary schools with COVID-19 advice for schools. In relation to Year 11 and 12 curriculum and assessment, the letter advised schools to refer to the WACE [WA Certificate of Education] Manual 2020 regarding procedures to be implemented if assessment is affected by a catastrophic event, such as the absence of staff and students due to a pandemic.

P Garnett (Chair), Letter to principals of WA secondary schools: COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) advice for schools, School Curriculum and Standards Authority, 17 March 2020.

19 March 2020 The WA Government announced a new free influenza vaccination program for all primary school-aged children, with vaccines to be available after Easter. It cited research that if 20 per cent of school-aged children are vaccinated, it can reduce influenza hospital admissions in all age groups by 30 per cent. Vaccination was

R Cook (Deputy Premier), Early influenza shots for over 65s, media release, 19 March 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 70

anticipated to be critical in 2020 as WA hospitals prepared to deal with the impact of COVID-19.

23 March 2020 Premier Mark McGowan announced WA’s implementation of ‘Stage 1’ social distancing directions from 12 noon. Facilities to close included pubs, bars, clubs, indoor sporting venues, cinemas, cultural institutions and places of worship; restaurants and cafes would only be able to serve takeaway.

The announcement stated that schools would remain open until the end of the term, as agreed by National Cabinet; however, parents who decided not to send their children to school would not face usual consequences. Resources would be provided to children so that they had the option to continue their education program for the rest of the term.

M McGowan (Premier), Important new COVID-19 measures come into effect, media release, 23 March 2020.

26 March 2020 The WA Government announced that new learning arrangements would be introduced in government schools to help manage the COVID-19 pandemic. From Monday 30 March to Friday 3 April, parents were encouraged to keep students at home from school. Students who could not learn from home were encouraged to continue attending school. Teachers would use the time between 6 and9 April to prepare for Term 2.

Independent and Catholic schools were expected to introduce their own measures.

M McGowan (Premier) and S Ellery (Minister for Education and Training), Changes to government school learning from Monday, media release, 26 March 2020.

31 March 2020 The WA Government announced a $1 billion economic and relief package to support WA businesses, households and community groups and boost health and frontline services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The measure included funding for increased cleaning of schools and public transport.

M McGowan (Premier) and B Wyatt (Treasurer), $1 billion COVID-19 economic and health relief package unveiled, 31 March 2020.

31 March 2020 Premier Mark McGowan announced that intrastate travel bans would come into effect from 11.59 pm that night to stop the spread of COVID-19. From this time, Western Australians would not be able to travel outside of their regional boundary. Exemptions would apply when travel was necessary for specified reasons, including to attend school or an educational institution.

M McGowan (Premier), Intrastate travel ban comes into effect from 11.59pm tonight, media release, 31 March 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 71

1 April 2020 Deputy Premier and Minister for Health Roger Cook announced that testing criteria for COVID-19 would be expanded for the general public and people working in high-risk settings, including boarding schools.

R Cook (Deputy Premier and Minister for Health), COVID-19 testing criteria to be expanded in WA, media release, 1 April 2020.

17 April 2020 The WA Government announced arrangements for the start of Term 2, with government schools to have a soft opening. Schools would be open for students from Wednesday 29 April, with the original first day of class (28 April) being a pupil-free day to enable teachers and staff to finalise learning arrangements. Parents and carers could choose whether to send children to school; Year 11 and 12 students were strongly encouraged to attend.

Other measures included $43 million for cleaning at schools throughout the day and social distancing measures.

Distance education packages would be provided for students learning from home. Arrangements would be in place until the end of week three and reviewed before week four.

The capacity of the Department of Education’s website, Learning at Home, was tripled to meet demand.

Year 12 and ATAR students were assured they would be able to receive their WACE and an ATAR in 2020. Students studying for VET qualifications were assured they would not be disadvantaged due to cancelled work placements.

The announcement stated that the WA Government had been working with Catholic and independent schools and expected they would also implement the arrangements outlined.

M McGowan (Premier) and S Ellery (Minister for Education and Training), Soft Term 2 opening for public schools as part of COVID-19 response, media release, 17 April 2020.

24 April 2020 The SCSA and leaders of school sectors wrote to Year 12 students with advice concerning COVID-19.

The letter assured them that all eligible Year 12 students would be able to get the WACE in 2020 and outlined assessment and communication arrangements. The SCSA

P Garnett (Chair of SCSA), L Rodgers (Director General of Department of Education), D Sayce, (Executive Director of Catholic Education WA) and V Gould (Executive Director of

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 72

was liaising with the Tertiary Institutions Service Centre to ensure Year 12 students would not be disadvantaged. Association of Independent Schools of WA), Letter to Year 12 students:

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) advice for 2020 Year 12 students, SCSA, 24 April 2020.

26 April 2020 The WA Government announced that some Stage 3 restrictions would be relaxed from Monday 27 April. Indoor and outdoor non-work gatherings could have up to ten persons gather, up from two.

The announcement stated that people should continue to practice social distancing and stay home. Child care and school were listed as reasons to leave the house.

M McGowan (Premier) and R Cook (Deputy Premier and Minister for Health), Cautious easing of restrictions thanks to WA’s COVID-19 progress, media release, 26 April 2020.

26 April 2020 Minister for Transport Rita Saffioti announced that bus services would return to pre-pandemic levels from Wednesday 29 April to ensure students going back to school would have options for travel.

Bus services would resume normal timetabling; trains would return to normal operations on Monday 4 May. In regional WA, school bus services would be available from the start of Term 2 on 29 April.

R Saffioti (Minister for Transport), Return of regular public transport services brought forward, media release, 26 April 2020.

1 May 2020 The WA Government announced it was partnering with the Telethon Kids Institute in the DETECT study.

The school study would have three aspects:

• a surveillance study testing for COVID-19 in students and staff without symptoms

• tracking transmission in schools, and

• a wellbeing survey.

Eighty schools were participating.

M McGowan (Premier), R Cook (Deputy Premier and Minister for Health) and S Ellery (Minister for Education and Training), Research study to track COVID-19 in schools, media release, 1 May 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 73

1 May 2020 Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery announced residential boarding facilities in WA government schools could reopen, with students returning on Tuesday 5 May. Monday 4 May would be a pupil-free day.

The announcement stated that a facility-by-facility approach would be taken, depending on size, capacity, enrolments and implementation of hygiene requirements.

Year 12 students would be able to return to every government school boarding facility.

Support for facilities included $343,000 for additional cleaning time and supplies, providing an additional 77 hours of cleaning for each facility.

Catholic and independent schools would make their own decisions about the transition of students back into residential colleges.

S Ellery (Minister for Education and Training), School boarding residential facilities to reopen where safe, media release, 1 May 2020.

2 May 2020 Deputy Premier Roger Cook announced that WA had reported the lowest number of influenza cases in the state’s recorded history, attributing the low numbers to COVID-19 precautions. The WA Government encouraged Western Australians to continue taking advantage of the free influenza vaccine for primary school-aged children (see 19 March announcement).

R Cook (Deputy Premier), WA records lowest flu numbers in history, media release, 2 May 2020.

14 May 2020 The WA Government announced that all WA school students were required to return to school from Monday 18 May 2020. Medically vulnerable students could continue to learn from home. Up to 20 additional teachers would be employed to support students still learning from home. Up to 36 additional staff would be employed to assist students needing additional support to re-engage with school.

The announcement also stated:

• 2020 ATAR course written exams would go ahead as scheduled from 2 November

for Year 12 students

• flexibility would be introduced into the Online Literacy and Numeracy Assessment

(OLNA) for Year 9 students who could not sit the NAPLAN in 2020. This would

M McGowan (Premier) and S Ellery (Minister for Education and Training), All WA students to return to school from next week, media release, 14 May 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 74

allow Year 9 students the opportunity to demonstrate the literacy and numeracy standards required to achieve the WACE

• teachers would be required to report to parents about students’ learning progress

in Semester 1, but would not be required to assign an A-E grade.

29 May 2020 The WA Government announced that Phase 3 of the WA roadmap to ease COVID-19 restrictions would commence from Saturday 6 June.

Under the changes, parents/guardians would be able to enter school grounds to drop off and pick up children.

M McGowan (Premier) and R Cook (Deputy Premier and Minister for Health), Phase 3 of COVID-19 roadmap to commence from Saturday, June 6, media release, 29 May 2020.

2 June 2020 The WA Government announced an expansion of work groups eligible to participate in the two-week DETECT Snapshot asymptomatic COVID-19 testing program. This included school staff, transport workers and tourism industry employees.

R Cook (Deputy Premier and Minister for Health), Western Australia expands asymptomatic COVID-19 testing, media release, 2 June 2020.

8 June 2020 Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery provided details of Phase 3 operating arrangements which came into effect in schools on Monday 8 June.

Parents were allowed on school grounds and restrictions were eased for school events, sporting activities and camps.

High-frequency cleaning throughout the day would continue in government schools.

S Ellery (Minister for Education and Training), Restrictions lifted for public schools as WA moves into Phase 3 of COVID recovery, media release, 8 June 2020.

8 June 2020 The WA Government launched the ‘Take 2 STEM’ campaign to encourage more WA students to select two STEM subjects, especially those entering Years 11 and 12 or those considering a vocational pathway.

With the state’s COVID-19 response emphasising the importance of STEM skills, the campaign aimed to build skills in young people and strengths in the workforce.

D Kelly (Minister for Science) and S Ellery (Minister for Education and Training), McGowan Government launches campaign to enable students to be ready for future jobs, with STEM skills, media release, 8 June 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 75

18 June 2020 Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery announced the lifting of restrictions on dormitory capacity for government school boarding facilities and school camps following the AHPPC’s revised guidelines.

Ms Ellery stated that school camps could fill dormitories but had to continue to comply with the limit of 100 people under Phase 3 guidelines.

S Ellery (Minister for Education and Training), Restrictions lifted on public school boarding facilities and school camps, media release, 18 June 2020.

18 June 2020 Deputy Premier and Minister for Health Roger Cook announced findings from the two-week DETECT Snapshot program to identify COVID-19 in people without symptoms.

WA Police staff, school staff, meat workers, and retail, hospitality, transport and tourism industry employees were swabbed, with all 18,409 people returning negative test results.

R Cook (Deputy Premier and Minister for Health), Picture of wellness captured in DETECT Snapshot, media release, 18 June 2020.

19 June 2020 The SCSA wrote to principals of WA secondary schools about Year 12 Physical Education Studies (PES) ATAR course practical examinations.

Following consultation about how to best implement PES assessment in relation to COVID-19, the SCSA determined it would administer the standard examination in the metropolitan area, and where viable, in regional centres.

A Blagaich (Executive Director), Letter to principals of WA secondary schools: 2020 Year 12 Physical Education ATAR course practical (performance) examination, SCSA, 19 June 2020.

3 July 2020 Deputy Premier and Minister for Health Roger Cook announced two research projects underway in WA to understand the rate and prevalence of COVID-19 in children. The research would complement the WA Government’s DETECT schools project.

R Cook (Deputy Premier and Minister for Health), Western Australia paving the way in kids COVID-19 research, media release, 3 July 2020.

26 July 2020 The WA Government launched the $5.5 billion WA Recovery Plan to drive economic and social recovery across the state and create a pipeline of jobs.

‘Building schools for the future’ was an identified priority, with new schools to be built and other schools extended.

M McGowan (WA Premier) and B Wyatt (Treasurer), $5.5 billion WA Recovery Plan launched to get WA back on track, media release, 26 July 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 76

26 July 2020 The WA Government announced a $66.3 million package focussed on renewable energy technologies as part of the WA Recovery Plan. The package included $4 million for ten schools to transform into Virtual Power Plants, receiving rooftop solar panel systems and commercial batteries. The local community would be able to contribute and withdraw power, reducing power bills for the schools and community participants.

M McGowan (Premier) and B Johnston (Minister for Energy), $66.3 million renewable energy technologies boost in WA recovery, media release, 26 July 2020.

2 August 2020 Results were announced for the first round of the DETECT schools study, which tested 4,757 school children, teachers and staff from government schools for COVID-19. All results were negative.

The swab testing at participating schools would be repeated at least twice in Term 3.

The project also involved a psychosocial survey of students, parents, teachers and staff from across 79 schools representing a range of socio-economic, educational and cultural backgrounds.

R Cook (Deputy Premier and Minister for Health) and S Ellery (Minister for Education and Training), First round of swab testing in schools detects no COVID-19, media release, 2 August 2020.

3 August 2020 Premier Mark McGowan and Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery announced a package to upgrade WA schools as part of the WA Recovery Plan.

The $492.2 million Major School Upgrade package included $319.2 million of new funding and was in addition to $173 million of infrastructure funding for government schools previously announced.

The Major School Upgrade package would fund upgrades and refurbishments at 63 government schools across the state.

M McGowan (Premier) and S Ellery (Minister for Education and Training), Record investment in WA school upgrades to help with recovery, media release, 3 August 2020.

27 August 2020 The WA Government outlined new projects worth $28 million for five schools in the South-West as part of the $492.2 million package under the WA Recovery Plan. M McGowan (Premier) and S Ellery (Minister for Education and

Training), South-West school upgrade boost in WA Recovery Plan, media release, 27 August 2020.

2 September 2020 The WA Government announced the ten schools selected for the $4 million Virtual Power Plant pilot as part of the WA Recovery Plan (see 26 July announcement). S Ellery (Minister for Education and Training) and B Johnston (Minister

for Energy), Student power: Schools

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 77

to transform into Virtual Power Plants as part of recovery, media release, 2 September 2020.

17 September 2020 The WA Government announced that 10,000 tourism vouchers worth $100 each would be on offer from Monday 21 September—in time for the school holidays—as part of a new $1 million initiative to support WA tourism and experience businesses to manage impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

M McGowan (Premier) and P Papalia (Minister for Tourism), A million reasons to Wander out Yonder in time for school holidays, media release, 17 September 2020.

8 October 2020 Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery announced funding of $456.2 million in 2020-21 to improve school infrastructure and create jobs as part of the 2020-21 State Budget’s $5.5 billion for school education.

Ms Ellery stated that the WA Government had also committed $39.6 million for Semester 2 in 2020 to ensure schools could continue enhanced cleaning regimes.

S Ellery (Minister for Education and Training), Record investment in education to benefit students and create jobs, media release 8 October 2020.

22 October 2020 Minister for Transport Rita Saffioti stated that Perth’s public transport usage had returned to almost 80 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels. School student patronage was back to almost 100 per cent.

R Saffioti (Minister for Transport), WA public transport patronage bouncing back from COVID-19, media release, 22 October 2020.

28 October 2020 Under the WA Recovery Plan, the WA Government announced a new $1.5 million program for water efficiency in schools. D Kelly (Minister for Water) and S Ellery (Minister for Education and

Training), $1.5 million investment in water efficiency flows into WA public schools, media release, 28 October 2020.

5 November 2020 Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery announced that Royal Life Saving WA would deliver two new ‘jobs ready’ short courses, the Pool Lifeguard Skill Set and Swimming and Water Safety Teacher Skill Set, as part of the WA Recovery Plan. The courses would help meet state-wide demand for pool lifeguards and swimming

S Ellery (Minister for Education and Training), Fast-lane to swimming jobs as Western Australia gets summer-ready, media release, 5 November 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 78

instructors. The courses would be fee-free for concession students, certain age groups and jobseekers.

In addition, school students could receive funded training to become qualified swimming instructors for the Department of Education’s VacSwim program. Eligible Year 11 and 12 students could register to take part and get paid employment over summer holidays during VacSwim.

16 November 2020 The SCSA wrote a letter to principals of all WA schools with curriculum and assessment advice for schools in 2021. The letter acknowledged schools’ work in managing circumstances arising from COVID-19 in 2020.

The SCSA said it would continue to monitor COVID-19 impacts but was planning to return to largely normal operations in 2021. Year 11 and 12 courses modified in 2020 would revert to regular syllabuses.

P Garnett (Chair), Letter to principals: curriculum and assessment advice for schools— 2021, School Curriculum and Standards Authority, 16 November 2020.

11 December 2020 Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery announced that government schools in WA would receive bandwidth upgrades from early 2021 to meet the growing demand for students to access online learning materials. Ms Ellery stated that the Department of Education had signed a $130 million extension to its telecommunications contract with Telstra.

The Department of Education said it would continue to improve telecommunications services in 23 very remote schools still reliant on satellite-based services.

S Ellery (Minister for Education and Training), Massive bandwidth boost for WA public schools, media release, 11 December 2020.

COVID-19: chronology of state and territory announcements on schools and early childhood education in 2020 79

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