Children in the Northern Rivers impacted by recent floods are back learning face to face in school and early childhood education and care (ECEC) services this week, with a range of plans in place depending on students’ needs and the extent of damage to individual schools and services.
Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said the NSW Government’s priority is the health and wellbeing of staff and students, which includes access to face to face learning and care.
“It is important for mental health and wellbeing that students and staff return to a site as soon as practical, and we have made every effort to keep affected communities together after the events of the past two weeks,” Ms Mitchell said
“The Department is working closely with education communities to support students’ specific needs, including quickly mobilising existing partnerships with leading mental health organisations to provide wellbeing support to students, staff and families during the recovery period.
“It has been a very tough time for our schools and ECEC services. My visits to impacted schools and services last week and again yesterday has made me acutely aware of the scale of damage.”
Students from 17 public schools and 22 ECEC services that were heavily damaged by the flooding now have the opportunity to continue face-to-face learning at alternative sites.
“We have had to be creative in finding suitable and safe alternative sites for these impacted schools. We have students learning at Southern Cross University in East Lismore and students learning out of a cinema in Brunswick Heads.” Ms Mitchell said.
“Our students and education staff have been so resilient, and we will continue to support them through this recovery.
“We have more than 100 demountables ready to head north to schools once the ground is dry enough for them to be installed.
“Once the temporary facilities have been installed, we will continue to deliver IT equipment, furniture, stationary and hygiene supplies to support the schools.”
Recovery will be a different journey for each school and service, and the NSW Government will continue to work with local leadership teams to support staff and students.
A comprehensive schools flood recovery program is being developed, focusing on student and staff wellbeing, continuity of teaching and learning, support for ECEC services and planning for the long-term permanent replacement of school facilities lost in the floods.
The current list of NSW schools that are temporarily non-operational due to flooding is available on the NSW Education website at https://education.nsw.gov.au/public-schools/school-safety.