WA reinstates compulsory school attendance

WA reinstates compulsory school attendance

From today, all public, Catholic and private school students in Western Australia will be required to return to the classroom.

The decision, made on Thursday following a review of the current arrangements and health advice with stakeholders and health experts, comes as students across all jurisdictions slowly acclimatise to regular schooling.

Catholic Education WA said based on surveys conducted last week, student attendance at Catholic schools has been higher than 80% system-wide, with higher attendance rates for students in Years 11 and 12.

The majority of public school students in the state have already returned to the classroom, with some figures showing that as many as 85% of the sector’s students are already back in classrooms.

While all students are expected to attend school, there will be exceptions for those who are medically vulnerable or those who have a family member with chronic health issues.

The Department will also employ up to 20 additional teachers to support students who have been medically referred to learn from home. Another 36 additional staff will also be employed to help students who need additional support to re-engage with their school.

For teachers and school staff aged over 70 – and those aged over 65 with a health condition – the advice is that they should seek approval by a medical professional before returning to work.

WA Premier McGowan said the state is “once again leading the way” when it comes to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

“Our cautious, staged approach to re-opening WA schools allowed us to carefully transition students back into the classroom, while managing the risk,” McGowan said.

“We are now in a position where Western Australian parents can feel confident that schools are a safe place for their children, with a rigorous cleaning regime and other additional protections in place”.

WA Education Minister Sue Ellery said any student without a valid health reason who does not return will no longer be provided with learning packages and their absence will be marked as unauthorised.

“These students will be supported to reconnect with their schools,” she said.