The State Government has delayed the start of the 2022 school year as virus cases soar.
The resumption will move from Monday, January 24, to Monday, February 7, to avoid opening schools during the predicted peak of the Omicron wave.
The government says it will also to allow more time for children to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said modelling showed the likely peak of Omicron cases would be in the last week of January and the first week of February.
“This is a common sense move to avoid students heading back to primary or secondary school just as the rapidly rising number of Omicron cases in Queensland hits its peak,” the Premier said.
“As the Chief Health Officer has said, there is no way to completely stop this virus from spreading,” she said.
“But we can take steps to protect the community – including our children – as much as possible.
“I know parents are concerned about sending children back to school at a time like this, so I want to assure them that delaying the start of the school year by just two weeks is a sensible solution.
“This is especially important to give more time to vaccinate 5-11 year olds, who only become eligible to be vaccinated tomorrow, Monday 10 January.”
Education Minister Grace Grace said students would not miss out on any essential content due to the delayed start of term, with teachers to review lesson plans to deliver the curriculum accordingly.
Ms Grace said schools would still open for vulnerable children and the children of essential workers. Years 11 and 12 students will participate in learning from home from January 31.
To ensure other cohorts do not miss out on learning, the end of the school year will be extended for them by one week until 16 December.
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“Principals will implement staffing arrangements to ensure only the minimum number of staff are on site, but we will ensure vulnerable children and children of essential workers can still attend,” she said.
“This the first time most of us in Queensland are experiencing widespread community transmission of COVID-19, and it’s challenging for everyone.
“I have been working closely with my Department and key stakeholders on a number of plans and scenarios for months, but the emergence of the Omicron variant has seen cases rise much more quickly than expected.
“An extensive range of resources and activities will be available to students via our comprehensive learning@home site.
“However, school staff – like the wider workforce – are likely to be significantly impacted by the number of COVID cases, so directed remote learning won’t be offered at this stage other than for years 11 and 12.
“Parents and carers can decide what their children do over these two weeks.
“Staff who are able to work will be carrying out a range of duties, just as they would on other student free days.
“The Department will continue to work closely with key stakeholders and will ensure that our school communities, parents and carers are kept informed.”
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said using the time to get vaccinated was vital.
“January and February are going to be tough months for Queensland, with a significant impact expected on all our workforces – including teachers,” she said.
“But the more people who are vaccinated, the smaller the impact on our health service.
“I cannot emphasise enough, getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19.
“Whether it’s your first or second jab, or your booster, do not delay.”
The new term start date of February 7 will apply to all Queensland primary schools, secondary schools, including Catholic and independent, and state delivered and sessional kindies.
Long day care will stay open subject to workforce capacity.
More information can be found here on the Department of Education website.