The students forgotten in back-to-school rush
BOARDING students have been forgotten and left in limbo with the return to school this week, parents say, having to scramble to cross borders and forced to self-isolate upon return.
It comes as more than 240,000 Prep, Year 1, 11 and 12 Queensland students are allowed back into classrooms today.
School cleaning will be ramped up, teachers will have to stay 1.5m apart and parents will be forced to social distance at drop-off and pick-up, and are no longer permitted to walk their children into their classrooms as schools continue to provide remote learning to years 2-10.
But The Courier-Mail has spoken with mothers in Queensland and interstate who say their children are facing constant uncertainty about whether they can go back to boarding school or come home for holidays if they have to isolate before and after travelling.
Among the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee guidelines for boarding schools is reducing the number of students staying at the facility, making use of single rooms or only 25 per cent of students in dormitory accommodation, limiting shared bathrooms, staggering dining times and reducing home visits.
The mother of a Queensland boarding student from northern NSW, speaking to The Courier-Mail on condition of anonymity, said the conditions placed on boarding school students were "horrendous".
"Even without the isolation, they're only taking back 25 per cent, they're still isolated from their peers, yes they all go to school but afterwards there will be no common room, no common sport, no eating together … that's pretty isolated stuff," she said.
She said rural and regional children had been self-isolating for months during COVID-19, on their family properties and was unsure if she would send her son back to school when the time came.
"They're only kids, they're not adults, I don't think I'll put my son through it - 14 days of isolation, but I should because he needs access to his teacher but I don't know what we're going to do.
"NRL players are flying in and out of the state but kids can't go and be educated."
Meanwhile Sandra Ravenscroft, a mother from Kununurra in Western Australia said her daughter Brooke in year 12 would fly back to Brisbane and would have to isolate in the Clayfield College boarding house for 14 days, and potentially not return home for holidays because there was not enough time to isolate either side of travel.
She said she was unsure whether she would send her younger children in year 8 and 10 back to boarding school, potentially waiting until term three.
And Thallon based mother Jessie Persse has two children boarding at Clayfield College in year 8 and 10 said the "uncertainty was the hardest part" with little time left to make plans before all school year levels are expected to return on May 25th.
Clayfield College principal Dr Andrew Cousins said they were extremely supportive of the COVID-19 safe principles and directives for boarding schools to keep students and staff safe, and were working to help students who could not yet return.
"Under the AHPPC guidelines, we will be able to accommodate a total of 41 boarders which is a third of our 120 capacity," he said.
It comes as the Isolated Children's Parents' Association of New South Wales wrote to the Minister for Health Steven Miles and the Education Minister Grace Grace last week about the "anxiety" families were experiencing with interstate children having to isolate.
"Rural and remote NSW children have spent the better part of five weeks in isolation in their rural communities and remote properties," the letter said.
LNP opposition education spokesman Jarrod Bleijie said he understood the frustration for parents who see mixed messages and uncertainty with different rules for different people.
A Queensland Health spokesperson said they understood individuals were trying to return to Queensland and their normal lives, with boarding schools responsible for their own processes for returning children.
"Queensland's individual Public Health Units will work with the state's boarding schools to ensure they receive the right assistance and health advice, so we can continue to keep Queenslanders safe."
All smiles for these returning students
IT'S back on for young and older students.
Year 12 students across the state will be ecstatic to walk through the front gates of schools today as they resume face-to-face classes in their most important year of school.
Cannon Hill Anglican College
Year 12 student Will Ewart said he thought going back to school would be enjoyable.
The senior student, who has an interest in studying business beyond school, said the home-learning experience, while short-lived, prepared students for the future.
Fellow Year 12 student Edie Biasibetti said she was "really excited" to go back to school today.
"To see my grade and teachers in real life after seeing them online for so long, it's really exciting," she said.
It will also be all smiles as Preppies go back in the classroom, after weeks of anticipation.
Twins Alastair and Oscar Ormston Bell, 5, have been counting down the number of sleeps until they were back with friends in class today.
Just a small cohort of students had been in classrooms at Our Lady Help of Christians at Hendra, while the majority had been remote learning this term.
Mother Sandra Bell said that her twins were very excited to be back in their normal classroom with their regular teacher.
"They're really excited about all of their other friends coming back to school, they asked how many sleeps it was going to be," she said.
"All the Prep kids had only just started school when they had to go through big changes and were quite confused about where their regular teacher was," she said.
Originally published as The students forgotten in back-to-school rush