All residential college boarders head home; Term 2 format unknown

All residential college boarders head home; Term 2 format unknown

Boarders from the state's residential colleges including Northam and Moora are now living back at home, after direction from the Chief Health Officer.

On Tuesday, Cunderdin Agricultural College announced that their 139 students would begin to be sent home.

In a letter sent to parents and carers Cunderdin Agricultural College principal Sally Panizza said learning would continue online.

"The Minister of Education, on the advice of the WA Department of Health's Chief Health Officer, has directed the Department of Education to commence sending students in boarding and residential facilities home," she said.

"This is a preventative and risk management strategy and I want to assure you that at this point in time there are no reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our community.

"The safety of our students is our first priority and I am sure it will ease your concerns to have them home."

Ms Panizza said students could begin leaving the college from 1pm on Tuesday.

The college will remain open until the end of the term.

Since then, all students from the state's boarding and residential colleges have been sent home, some living hundreds of kilometres away from their school.

Education Minister Sue Ellery said the restrictions had been put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 across WA's regional areas.

"Based on Chief Health Officer's advice, I directed the Department of Education to start the progressive reduction of students in boarding and student residential facilities," she said.

"We are aware - as the Prime Minister pointed out on 18 March - that boarding schools are 'at high risk of transmission' and it is important to mitigate that risk."

She said as of the end of Wednesday, all students would have returned home.

Ellery said the Education Department was finalising learning arrangements for the affected students.

"There are a number of options including accessing on line resources or using hard copy materials."

The moves comes two days before WA parents were told to keep students at home from next week as teachers prepare to moving learning online for Term 2 in response to COVID-19.

Teaching in WA's public schools will officially end on Friday, April 3, a week earlier than the official school calendar.

In an announcement on Thursday, Premier Mark McGowan said the government felt it was the right time to make the next step.

"I know the situation around our public schools has been causing angst for parents, teachers, staff and students," he said.

"I understand that it may be confusing, but we've kept them open, consistent with the best medical advice at hand through the National Cabinet process.

"Firstly, from Monday, March 30, we will now encourage parents to keep children at home if they can, and access the online learning resources we have made available.

"However, all children who do attend public schools will continue to be taught.

"Where parents need children to attend school to enable them to maintain employment, and for those children in vulnerable families, like children living with grandparents, they are encouraged to continue to attend school."

Mr McGowan said arrangements would be in place for schools to supervise children who needed to attend from April 6 to 9 where their parents were involved in essential services.

"Teachers and education assistants will now use this time to plan and prepare for a new way of teaching from the start of Term 2, with work continuing through the school holidays," the premier said.

"It is crucial for us to strike the right balance between keeping the community safe, allowing essential services to continue and provide a quality education to our students in this difficult time.

"I want to reassure parents that our schools are well prepared to continue to provide education for their children."

He said plans for the delivery of public education in Term 2 will be released as soon as possible.

The Education Department has online learning resources on their website for students until Year 10, with additional tools to be rolled out for Year 11 and 12 students.