Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan is pushing for all children to be back in school by the end of May, putting him on a collision course with Victorian authorities.
The state government has bluntly rejected calls to reopen schools before the end of term two (June 29), arguing it would risk causing a new spike in coronavirus cases.
On Sunday the Wannon MP said he hoped all schools in Australia would be open by the end of May.
He said parents and teachers would be reassured that the community risk from children returning to the classroom was low.
"The risk remains from adult-to-adult transmission, so schools should limit contact between teachers and parents, allow older and vulnerable teachers to work from home and follow the advice from the AHPPC (Australian Health Protection Principal Committee) when it comes to schools," he said.
The re-opening of schools remains a contentious issue between the federal and states and territory governments.
However, a study by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance has found no evidence students at NSW schools have infected staff with COVID-19.
Victoria authorities have said they will not follow in the footsteps of other states in easing some social distancing measures, despite a steady decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he was encouraged by the low case numbers.
"They prove that our physical distancing measures are working but this is not a time to relax our strong approach - this disease can get away from you very quickly as we have seen in cities overseas," Professor Sutton said on Sunday.
He said he had no intention of altering Victoria's stay-at-home measures until May 11, despite moves by Queensland and Western Australia to ease some restrictions this week.
"I don't know what transmission will look like this week or next week, but I think the state of emergency going to May 11 is a nice line-up with the national cabinet process for a real look at changing the restrictions," he said.
Professor Sutton said his advice had also not changed on schools, despite the opposition demanding the government immediately reopen them to all students.
"Other states are moving to get kids back to school safely, and Victoria must do the same," Opposition leader Michael O'Brien said.
Victoria's Education Minister James Merlino entered the debate on social media, arguing that sending students back prematurely would undermine efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
"Let me be very clear, particularly to the federal government who do not run any schools; we will only transition back to face-to-face teaching for all students when that is the advice of the Victorian Chief Health Officer. Not a moment before," Mr Merlino tweeted on Sunday.
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