National

NSW teachers union urge online learning

By AAP Newswire

The NSW Teachers Federation is calling for a planned transition to online learning across all state schools as attendance numbers continue to fall after premier Gladys Berejiklian urged parents to keep their children at home.

Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos says normal school operations must end to ensure the safety of students and staff with figures suggesting a 75 per cent absentee rate across NSW state schools amid the coronavirus crisis.

Absentee rates were around 30 per cent before Ms Berejiklian's statement on Monday.

"We need to be able to plan and we need to be able to plan on the basis of clear advice, clear statements, and a clear position by our elected leaders," Mr Gavrielatos told reporters on Wednesday.

"Normal school operations must end to put the health and safety of students and staff first on school sites."

Mr Gavrielatos is calling for an urgent meeting with the premier to discuss transition efforts effective from March 30 - starting with a pupil-free day for all students except the children of essential frontline services workers.

The federal government announced schools would remain open on Monday, but Ms Berejiklian has encouraged parents to keep their kids at home as the state ramps up online learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Association of Independent Schools of NSW supports the state government's decision and is transitioning to online teaching.

Association chief executive Geoff Newcombe says the state's 500 independent schools are implementing a learning-from-home model with training sessions commencing on Wednesday.

"A dedicated portal will shortly be available on the AISNSW website which contains resources and support developed by AISNSW, independent schools and other learning organisations," Dr Newcombe said earlier this week.

The National Catholic Education Commission and Catholic Schools NSW also support the push but will keep schools open for those who can't stay at home.

"It is our view that the government and public health authorities are in the best position to determine whether schools should remain open and we will adhere to this advice," education commission executive director Jacinta Collins said in a statement.

Catholic Schools earlier this week said that while some parents may wish to keep their children home from school "our gates will be open".

The Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations of NSW has called for consistent advice.

TAFE NSW announced on Wednesday all face-to-face courses will be paused from March 30 to April 27.

The decision will give staff time to plan lessons, develop learning materials, and modify training to be delivered to students online, a TAFE NSW spokesman said on Wednesday.

From April 27 classes will re-commence via "connected and blended delivery" which may include face-to-face delivery where necessary with adequate social distancing.

Students due to complete their studies this term in "critical skills areas" such as aged care and nursing will not be paused.