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Grace says schools, child-care centres will have to enforce vaccine mandate

Fraser Barton reports in InQld (1.12.21) on the Queensland government’s announcement of vaccination mandates for anyone working at or attending the state’s schools, childcare centres and other government-run facilities, in line with similar rules in place around the country.

‘A mandate has been announced for anyone aged over 16 who enters a school, childcare centre, prison or airport for work or volunteering, which will bring the state into line with vaccine rules in the rest of the nation. They must have had one dose by December 17 and be fully vaccinated by January 23 to enter any “high-risk settings”.

‘Education Minister Grace Grace said unlike the upcoming venue vaccine mandate, which police have promised to enforce, employers will be expected to police the high-risk setting mandate.

‘“It’s up to the employers in those centres because this does cover all of the government and non-government sectors and they will have to ensure that people come in onto their site, similar to other areas are vaccinated, particularly their staff at this point in time,” she told ABC Radio on Tuesday. “Obviously, if there’s contractors coming up or volunteers, they’ll also have to have proof as well.”

‘When asked about unvaccinated staff potentially losing their jobs next year, the minister said, “That will be the health directive and that will be the manner in which we have to implement it.”

‘The mandate will not apply to people with medical exemptions or to parents dropping off or picking up their children at public facilities, but Grace said private facilities could potentially bar unvaccinated parents.

‘She said the state government would also soon issue directions on school ventilation to help reduce the risk of virus transmission ahead of the 2022 academic year.’

Will schools now get back to normal? We have to do better than that

Chris Bonnor and Tom Greenwell write in Pearls and Irritations (14.2.22) that it’s critical we don’t just ‘return to normal’ in schools but instead take advantage of Covid-19 disruption to address structural flaws in Australia’s education system.

‘No one is craving a normal year more than parents, teachers and students. Two years of start-stop schooling has been a recurring nightmare. For many young people, especially those who were already struggling to engage with school, online learning has been no substitute for the real thing.

‘The eventual easing of restrictions will be welcomed enthusiastically. But we should aim to do more than just return to normal. For years, normal has under-delivered on countless promises, hopes and expectations. Normal schooling has delivered mediocre or declining average student achievement now for over two decades. Various measures tell much the same story: the connected and the advantaged are doing OK, but the strugglers aren’t improving.

‘Unless we are careful, returning to normal could see Australia doubling down on structures and policies which have long failed our schools. For decades these policies have continued to widen the socio-educational gap between schools: high SES schools have been growing, and low SES schools have been stagnating.’

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