PM: Why Aussie schools will remain open
After days of criticism and conjecture, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced schools will remain open across the country, describing the situation as "very serious".
He said schools in each state and territory would remain open for the rest of term one.
In a televised announcement Sunday night, Mr Morrison thanked teachers and all of those working in our schools "who have been doing that under a lot of pressure … under a lot of stress and strain as this debate has raged on".
But he made it clear his position on schools had not changed.
"Children should go to school tomorrow," he said, adding there was no change to the health advice.
"Health advice has been clear and (schools) have remained open and this is important because I want to stress this, I do not want to see our children lose an entire year of their education.
"This is very serious. If you are a four-year-old child at preschool, you do not get your old year back. You only get it once.
"Early childhood education is incredibly important. As is all the years of school education.
And we want to ensure keeping Australia running means ensuring we can keep up to the mark with our children's education as best as we can and where there is health advice which there is you can get to school and you can be taught, then it is important that we do that for as long as possible, except where health circumstances would change that arrangement."
The government will, however, allow parents to keep their children at home until the end of the school term.
"But for all of those parents who wish to send their children to school, for an education at the school, those schools will remain open. In addition, schools will seek to provide learning at home in a distance learning framework but you cannot be assured that that will come in place immediately," Mr Morrison said.
"That will take some arrangements from those schools, particularly the public schools, in many independent and Catholic schools they may choose to move to those models, already have, but what is important here is if you are a parent and you want your child to go to school up until the end of this term, and the schools should remain open and must remain open is the instruction, until the end of that term."
Victoria has already acted, announcing it's bringing forward Easter holidays to Tuesday.
Mr Morrison said the premiers and chief ministers all had the same view that schools should reopen on the other side of the term break, subject to health advice.
But he had a strong message for any parents keeping their children out of school.
"Parents who ... make the decision for the children to remain at home must take responsibility for those children. Those children are staying at home, it is not an excuse for them to go down to the shopping centre or to go and congregate somewhere else or potentially put themselves in contact with the vulnerable and elderly population.
"If you choose to keep your child at home, you are responsible for the conduct and behaviour of your children. It is important that they observe the strict social distancing arrangements that have been advised to the public.
"This term break will be like none other. This will not be a holiday, as it is normally known for the break in term. There will not be trips interstate, there will not be those holiday normal type arrangements. There will not be congregating up at the trampoline venue or whatever it happens to be. That will not be happening. It won't be a holiday as anyone has ever known it."
Originally published as PM: Aussie schools will remain open