Schools and universities are scrambling to prevent a coronavirus outbreak after bans on mass gatherings of more than 500 people.
Schools and universities are scrambling to prevent a coronavirus outbreak after bans on mass gatherings of more than 500 people.

Schools and universities all in limbo from virus

SCHOOLS and universities are scrambling to prevent a coronavirus outbreak after bans on mass gatherings of more than 500 people.

While Chief Medical Officer Dr Brendan Murphy and Prime Minister Scott Morrison's advice at COAG on Friday did not apply to schools and universities, some have taken unique measures to prevent hundreds of students gathering in confined spaces as they ramp up their response to the global pandemic.

In a letter to parents, Brisbane State High School executive principal Wade Haynes said while the advice did not apply to schools or public transport, the school planned to avoid having large groups of students in single venues from Monday onwards.

"To enable this plan to occur, we will be making some adjustments to students' lesson schedules on Monday," he said. "This means that lessons have been extended by five minutes each, the lunch break adjusted and assemblies removed.

The Department of Education is set to provide schools with advice regarding the need for large gatherings such as assemblies, fetes, sports and carnivals. Picture: AAP Image/Renae Droop
The Department of Education is set to provide schools with advice regarding the need for large gatherings such as assemblies, fetes, sports and carnivals. Picture: AAP Image/Renae Droop

"These changes will mean that students who are able to leave 30 minutes before the normal closure of school will need to do so.

"Those who are unable to be collected or travel home at that time will be supervised in the school grounds until the regular 2.30pm finish."

Mr Haynes said the remainder of the school week would be "business as usual" unless circumstances changed.

Meanwhile, St Martin's Catholic Primary School at Carina informed parents that the school's social disco would be cancelled in light of current coronavirus advice.

 

 

The Department of Education is set to provide schools with advice regarding the need for large gatherings such as assemblies, fetes, sports and carnivals.

Education Minister Grace Grace said the Government was following advice from the Chief Medical Officer.

"If there is a need to close individual schools, these decisions will be made quickly, based on further advice from health experts," she said.

"As in other disaster and emergency management events, the department has online learning materials and virtual classroom capability that can be used by schools where appropriate to support sustained curriculum delivery."

Education Minister Grace Grace said the Government was following advice from the Chief Medical Officer. Picture; AAP Image/Dan Peled
Education Minister Grace Grace said the Government was following advice from the Chief Medical Officer. Picture; AAP Image/Dan Peled

Universities around the state have cancelled or postponed events.

A University of Sunshine Coast spokeswoman said the institution was evaluating which events could be cancelled, postponed or delivered differently online.

Planned Harmony Day events at three USQ campuses next week were cancelled, and all other upcoming events were now under review, Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie said in a letter to staff.

"This review does not apply to other university activities, including on-campus lectures, classes and other core business activities," she said.

Bond University was one of the first to ban mass gatherings, delaying its graduation ceremony in mid-February.

 

A University of Queensland spokeswoman said management was monitoring developments closely and was planning for a number of scenarios.
A University of Queensland spokeswoman said management was monitoring developments closely and was planning for a number of scenarios.

 

"Bond University does not have any upcoming major events that would fall into the category of a mass gathering of 500 or more people because the university had already made appropriate changes in preparation for challenges regarding coronavirus," a spokeswoman said.

A University of Queensland spokeswoman said management was monitoring developments closely and was planning for a number of scenarios.

 

 

"We will continue to follow government advice and to update our staff and students," a UQ spokeswoman said.

TAFE Queensland was among the institutions undertaking risk assessments of all planned events across the state, but due to its practical nature, a full transition to online delivery may not be possible.

It comes as two childcare centres, Only About Children in McDowall and Edge Early Learning in Bellbird Park, were closed Friday after a child and an educator respectively came into contact with a person diagnosed with coronavirus.

 



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