All school assemblies, excursions and sports carnivals will be cancelled across ACT schools from Monday in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
While schools across Canberra will otherwise operate as normal on Monday, the cancellations imposed from the ACT Education Directorate will apply to any other gathering at the school of more than 500 people.
This extends to parent/teacher nights as well as school open days, sporting events, music concerts and school camps.
All school camps that were set to start from Monday will be postponed or cancelled.
"The safety of staff, children and young people is the paramount concern of the ACT government," a directorate spokesman said.
"While we realise there will be some disruption as a result of this precautionary decision, we believe it is the best course of action to ensure the safety of not only our school communities, but the Canberra community as a whole."
The measures in the ACT comes as similar measures were rolled out in NSW public schools.
The NSW ban, in effect from Monday, also included whole school sporting events and inter-school events involving three or more schools.
The ACT had previously announced a ban on international excursions until the end of term two due to coronavirus.
"Further advice will be forthcoming. A decision regarding overseas school excursions in terms three and four will be made at the end of term one," the directorate spokesman said.
The ACT Education Directorate has said that individuals schools might be closed if a student or staff member contracts coronavirus. Those who came into "close contact" with the case would be required to self isolate for 14-days.
As of Monday morning, the nation's chief health officers were advising against blanket school closures.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said locking down schools could "make the situation worse".
Mr Morrison said international medical advice was that it was counterintuitive to close schools as it meant children were in increased contact with members of the broader community.
ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Association president Kirsty McGovern-Hooley said the "social distancing" protocols imposed on Monday were sensible.
Ms McGovern-Hooley agreed mass school closures should be avoided, saying they could cause "incredible disruption".
"Parents would have to be at home and it could prevent them from earning money," she said.
"We also have to take into account the kids' learning and trying to keep everything as normal as possible."
Ms McGovern-Hooley encouraged parents to keep updated with the latest advice for heath and government authorities.
Australian Education Union ACT branch secretary Glenn Fowler said the move to ban assemblies and excursions seemed "entirely reasonable", adding teachers would follow the expert medical advice.
Mr Fowler said the union was also focused on ensuring all teachers, including relief teachers, were not financially disadvantaged if schools had to be shut.
In an email on Monday morning, Canberra Grammar confirmed that in addition to cancelling assemblies and excursions, and withdrawing from sporting competitions, the school would not be staging its Anzac Day service or school fete scheduled for later in Term 1.
"Whatever comes, the times ahead may be difficult for us all in schools, workplaces and homes," Canberra Grammar head of school Justin Garrick said in the email.
"We anticipate the strain of higher than normal absences, in addition to the disappointments of normal school life being curtailed."
As of Monday morning, there were two confirmed cases of coronavirus in the ACT.
More than 1000 people have tested negative for COVID-19 in Canberra.
A ban on mass gatherings of more than 500 people has seen mass cancellations of sports matches as well as music concerts, festivals and arts performances.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said special state powers would be enacted to enforce the bans.
Anyone who does not comply with the ban on mass gatherings in NSW could face up to six months in jail or a fine of $11,000.
"I urge the community to do the right thing and obey the decisions and advice of the national and NSW chief medical officers," Mr Hazzard said.
The ACT has not yet outlined its legislative response
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