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Queensland schools go pupil-free from next week, classes move online

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The term will end early for many Queensland students, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announcing pupil-free days for all of next week to help teachers adjust to online education.

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But anyone who still has a job, and is unable to provide support and supervision at home, will still be able to send their children to school next week. It is expected they will also be able to send their kids to school after the break, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison adamant that facilities remain open in order for people to keep working and support the economy.

With hundreds of thousands of Australians facing unemployment, Palaszczuk today echoed Morrison’s definition of essential workers as anyone who still has a job, saying many still needed schools to remain open.

“We are making it very clear that student-free days mean that teachers are going to be at school,” Palaszczuk said.

“The schools are going to be open.”

While the health advice has not changed, more students have been taken out of class, and Education Minister Grace Grace said there was a need to ensure the curriculum was delivered in whatever form whatever happens “into the future”.

Palaszczuk acknowledged the response had changed but said: “We can’t predict the future, we are taking each day as it comes”.

Another 50 cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Queensland overnight, taking the state’s tally to 493, with most regions now affected.

However, the potential financial impacts have already seen the national Cabinet wind back time limits on haircuts and potentially space restrictions for funerals. It is understood governments were also concerned that criticism of some measures may lead to broader civil disobedience – the very thing they are trying to avoid.

Ahead of the traditional school holidays, Palaszczuk has been insistent that people stay home. Queensland has closed campgrounds, and there are now local restrictions on entry to North Stradbroke Island, the Daintree, calls for similar measures in the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, while a British tourist was detained in the Whitsundays after failing to self-isolate as required.

Overnight and this morning, there have been long delays for motorists on the Tweed and Gold Coast, where police have sought to enforce some border restrictions aimed at reducing non-essential, interstate traffic. The Gold Coast itself is a virus hotspot, with many cases unable to be traced.

However, council elections and two by-elections – one in a state seat along the Gold Coast border – will still go ahead on Saturday, partly because so many votes have already been lodged.

After a second Queensland death, again involving an older person with an underlying health condition, Palaszczuk extended her condolences and said, “unfortunately we’re going to see more of this in the days and weeks ahead”.

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