A local infectious diseases expert has called for Canberra's public schools to be reopened to students as soon as possible, warning that waiting until Term 3 to resume classroom learning could be "more of a danger".
But Education Minister Yvette Berry said the ACT government was committed to its remote learning plan, meaning that all but a select group of schools will remain closed for Term 2.
The position means the ACT won't follow the lead of NSW and start bringing students back into the classroom from early next term, although Ms Berry said the government would closely monitor how its cross-border counterparts managed the transition as it plotted its own plan for Term 3.
With the ACT edging closer to having no active case of COVID-19 in its borders, questions are being asked as to whether the government needs to proceed with its plan to deliver online learning to public school students in Term 2.
When school returns next week, only a small number of campuses will remain open to cater for children who need supervision while completing coursework.
Australian National University professor Peter Collignon disagreed with the approach, believing that schools should be among the first parts of the community to be reopened as the government looks to start slowly easing coronavirus restrictions.
Professor Collignon said students, particularly those aged under 15, should be resuming face-to-face learning "very soon".
In arguing his case, he pointed to the growing body of evidence which showed that children were less likely to spread the virus.
Just two of the 104 cases of coronavirus recorded in the ACT have been aged under 20. None have been aged under 10. Fewer than 300 cases nationwide have been in 10-19 age bracket, representing about 4.5 per cent of all infections in Australia.
The advice from the nation's chief health officers remained that there was a "very low" health risk for children who attended school.
Professor Collignon said it might be safer for students to return to class next week than it would be at the start of Term 3.
The July 20 start date for Term 3 sits in the middle of winter, near the traditional peak of the flu season.
"I actually think that third term is more of danger than this term, because third term is winter," he said. "So if we're going to open the schools, we're actually safer doing it now than in winter."
Professor Collignon pointed to the example of Germany, which was starting to reopen its schools despite still recording thousands of new cases of COVID-19 each day.
"And we are better than Germany - people need to take that into account," he said.
"We have one of highest testing rates in the world, we have done better contact tracing and quarantining."
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Ms Berry reaffirmed that the public school system was ready and committed to delivering the online curriculum for the whole of Term 2.
Asked to comment on professor Collignon's view, Ms Berry suggested that some schools could be short staffed if teachers were required back in the classroom during the pandemic.
"What we also need to take into account is whether or not we will have enough school staff to attend school for lots of different reasons, because some of them might be in that vulnerable cohort," she said.
The NSW government on Tuesday morning announced its plan for Term 2, which will see students return to classrooms from the start of week three. Students will physically attend class one day per week at the start, with face-to-face learning to increase over the course of the term.
The approach is designed so that no more than a quarter of a school's students are on campus at the same time. Teachers will also have access to priority testing for COVID-19.
Ms Berry said the ACT would "look carefully" at the situation in NSW, as well as in Victoria and Queensland, as it weighed up options for Term 3. She said the decision to commit to remote learning had bought the territory time to prepare an orderly transition back to classroom learning later in the year.
At the same press conference, Chief Minister Andrew Barr said ACT government would not make "immediate snap changes" based on what NSW was doing.
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