Education Minister Yvette Berry has apologised to Canberra parents after her department circulated incorrect information about status of ACT schools amid new coronavirus restrictions.
The ACT government sparked mass confusion among parents on Monday by sending mixed messages about whether or not parents would be allowed to send their children to school when they moved to "pupil-free" days from Tuesday until school holidays.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Ms Berry encouraged parents to keep their children at home, allowing teachers and students time to start preparing for the move to online learning. But the pair emphasised that children who needed to attend would be allowed to do so.
These included children of teachers, aged care workers, healthcare professionals and "critical" public sector employees.
Ms Berry also added that "no child would be turned away" if, for whatever reason, they needed to attend school.
"That could be for a number of reasons, it could be because they [parents] needed to work ... it could be because they are a single parent," she said.
But the public comments of the territory's two most senior politicians was contradicted by the ACT Education Directorate, which published information on its website at 10.30am which advised that parents "cannot send their children to school during the pupil-free period".
Asked about the advice at a press conference early on Monday morning, Ms Berry said she "wasn't aware of any information from the directorate" regarding such advice. But she said she was aware of some "unfortunate messaging from the school community" which she hoped to clarify as soon as possible.
The directorate updated its website soon after, removing the section that advised parents they weren't allowed to send their children to school.
It posted another update at 4.40pm, which included advice that "no child will be turned away".
In Facebook posts early on Tuesday morning, Ms Berry and ACT Education Directorate director general Katy Haire apologised for the confusion caused to parents.
"Again, I am very sorry that you received incorrect information. To be absolutely clear, if you need to have your children at school, no child will be turned away," Ms Berry's post read.
"I hope this also helps clears things up. I also encourage your questions and ideas as we go through these difficult times together."
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