A top health official says it is “almost certain” that schools will also have to close as part of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.
A top health official says it is “almost certain” that schools will also have to close as part of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.

‘Almost certain’ schools will close

There are increasing calls for schools across Australia to be closed from Monday to stop the spread of coronavirus, despite Scott Morrison saying they would not be included in the public gathering restrictions.

The PM pointed out yesterday that the public gathering ban wouldn't include schools or unis.

But the South Australian president of the Australian Medical Association says schools closing would "a;most certainly" happen.

"What we are trying to do is make people understand that there is a real need for the hard stuff to be done upfront because that will make things easier later," Chris Moy said.

"People talk about flattening the curve, and what that means is we want to avoid a huge lump of people getting sick at one time and overwhelming our health system.

"Schools are pigeonholed into the same category as other large gatherings, and if the safety of children can be maintained then I think the schools will need to be looking at closing very soon."

The secretary of the NSW Education Department Mark Scott said there was rarely more than 500 people in one spot at schools.

"I think it's the way that schools are structured is that rarely are more than 500 people in one place at one time," he said.

"That's part of the social distancing advice we're going to be providing. So if you have a big school that runs big school assemblies, now is not the time to be doing that."

Speaking on ABC News 24, the Australian Primary Principals Association president Malcolm Elliott said it was hard for schools to plan for any shutdowns.

"What happens now, of course, is that we're all on tenterhooks," he said.

"We are all unsure about what the spread of the virus will be when it might strike particularly schools or how widespread this might become and how quickly. It is a very difficult thing to plan for in any really meaningful way."

He said because a lot of teachers were aged over 50 years, there were concerns the virus could quickly spread through Australian schools.



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