Narrabundah College parents want Canberra's colleges reopened as soon as possible, saying remote learning is having a "devastating impact" on students at a crucial juncture in their schooling and life.
The college's parents' association has asked Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Education Minister Yvette Berry to reopen colleges as the first step in the staggered return of public school students to the classroom.
Their calls come amid a growing push from parents and the Opposition for the government to start transitioning back to classroom learning.
The Canberra Times understands that a number of primary school parents groups expressed a desire for a return to classroom learning during a video-conference arranged by the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Association on Tuesday night.
The emerging consensus is significant because the ACT government has made clear that the reopening of school campuses is reliant, in large part, on the support of parents and teachers.
More parent groups are scheduled to provide feedback to the council at a similar meeting on Wednesday night, including Narrabundah College P&C.
In an email to Mr Barr and Ms Berry, which The Canberra Times has seen, Narrabundah's parents' group said there were "compelling reasons" for campuses to reopen in Term 2.
"College years have the most serious consequence for our students' tertiary study and career plans," their email read.
"Many of our children are expressing deep concern over their futures and university entrance processes that this disruption in tuition is causing."
It is very difficult for some students to learn from their bedroom. One parent told me that their child said it was like doing homework for eight hours a day.Narrabundah College P&C president Jenny Grant-Curnow
In arguing their case, the pair raised concerns about the negative affects of remote learning for vulnerable students. They noted the widely publicised advice from Australia's chief health officers that campuses were safe for children.
They argued that school closures had a "disruptive effect" on parents and the economy. The email was sent on April 28, a week before the federal government published figures which showed more than 300,000 Australian jobs had been affected by school closures in the first three months of the year.
The parents said in the email that they were "conscious and respectful" of concerns raised by teachers about returning the classroom during the pandemic.
Ms Grant-Curnow told The Canberra Times that reopening colleges was a "sensible and safe first step" because young adults were capable of practicing physical distancing on campus. She made clear that she wasn't advocating for a return to classroom learning immediately or on a certain date, but rather as "soon as it was possible".
But she said year 11 and year 12 students couldn't afford to be losing valuable time in the classroom, particularly when non-government school students were set to return to campuses as soon as next week.
"This is having a devastating impact on our children," she said.
"It is very difficult for some students to learn from their bedroom. One parent told me that their child said it was like doing homework for eight hours a day.
"They are losing out on their social connections. They are losing out on the steadiness of face-to-face teaching with teachers and the encouragement and support that goes with that."
Ms Grant-Curnow said while Narrabundah College had provided a great online program for its students, she was concerned about students "across the board".
The ACT government last week flagged a staggered return to classroom learning at some point in Term 2, staring with younger students and those at "key points in their learning journey", such as Year 7s and Year 12s.
Ms Grant-Curnow said the nature of Canberra's college system meant that Year 11 and Year 12 students needed to return at the same time.
The ACT Council of Parents & Citizens Association had been supportive of the government's original decision to shift to remote learning in Term 2, describing it as a "sensible" approach.
But the association's president, Kirsty McGovern-Hooley, said parents were finding remote learning "increasingly hard to manage".
"They are anxious, tired and starting to fray," Ms McGovern-Hooley said.
Based on feedback gathered from parents, she said there was a strong desire to see Year 11 and Year 12 students return to the classroom as soon as possible.
She said parents wanted the government to set out the criteria that would allow schools to safely reopen.
Meanwhile, the opposition will use a motion in the ACT Legislative Assembly to again call on the Barr government to allow parents to send their child to their regular school, rather than one of the nine "hub" schools.
Opposition education spokeswoman Elizabeth Lee said the government also needed to set a "concrete plan" to return students to the classroom. Ms Lee wanted to see the transition occur as "soon as practicable".
"There is no doubt that there has been so many parents, students and teachers who have been under enormous pressure and stress ever since the ACT government decided to take schools to pupil-free days in Term 1," she said.
"That uncertainty has no dissipated. In fact, it has been exacerbated by the incomprehensible messages that have come from the Minister's office."
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