A West Wollongong school has brought forward its pupil free day to train for long-term COVID-19 planning.
The Illawarra Grammar School (TIGS) staff have already been preparing for a scenario where students are unable to be on campus and learning shifts to an online model.
"Our Term IV Pupil Free Day has been brought forward to this Thursday, March 19 to allow us to make final preparations to administer learning remotely should this be required," a TIGS spokesperson said.
"TIGS has been communicating regularly with parents and staff about the latest advice on COVID-19 from NSW Health and our plans as a school should this impact on the provision of learning for our students."
The spokesperson said the pupil free day had a three-fold purpose.
"To provide an opportunity for a test of parents' capacity at home to access online learning for Kindergarten to Year 12 students. To test the school capacity to manage the load of full remote access by our students and make any necessary adjustments.
"And to provide a final day of preparation for our teaching staff for an extended rollout of remote learning.
"As always, our focus is on the safety and wellbeing of students and staff and the provision of ongoing learning."
TIGS' move comes hot on the heels of the NSW Department of Education (DoE) announcing its latest proactive measures to limit the impact of COVID-19 in schools.
DoE secretary Mark Scott said schools would adopt social distancing measures requiring them to cancel assemblies, excursions, travel, some events and conferences.
But some parents have blasted the decision by authorities to reopen schools on Monday as the country prepares for the coronavirus pandemic.
A parent, who has asked to remain anonymous, labelled the measures "ridiculous and unrealistic".
"My argument is that you can't have both - closures of gatherings over 500 and ridiculous and unrealistic restrictions in schools with 500-plus students. The whole thing is ludicrous," she said.
Another parent responding to an Illawarra Mercury story online, said "schools should be closed, our government needs to be proactive, not reactive. "
Another reader was more sympathetic saying "it makes no difference if they close schools. The parents still go to work, shops etc. We can still pick it up and bring it back home. If they are going to close schools they should isolate absolutely everyone."
NSW Teachers Federation senior vice-president Henry Rajendra said NSWTF was aware of the DoE's latest advice.
"We are in regular contact with the Department of Education. We continue to make recommendations on behalf of our members and concerns expressed are communicated to the Department of Health, which advises as necessary," Mr Rajendra said.
"We will continue to follow the advice of the Department of Health, which is informing the Department of Education."
The safety and wellbeing of students and staff is also the highest priority for TAFE NSW.
A spokesperson said TAFE NSW has stood up its Crisis Management Team to oversee the agency's strategic response to the unfolding international coronavirus situation.
It has also developed a range of measures in consultation with NSW Health and relevant Commonwealth agencies which are leading the national response.
"These measures are being implemented in line with the latest advice from health authorities; and are aimed at maintaining the safe, orderly operation of TAFE NSW campuses, and providing important information to students and stakeholders," the spokesperson said.
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